(L-R) CD Glin, President of USADF; Prof.  Rajshree Agarwal, Director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets at University of Maryland; RUFORUM representatives: Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe,  professor at University of Nairobi; and Henry Makuma-Massa, Grants Officer at the RUFORUM  Secretariat

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) organized and participated in the 2017 Global Workshop of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF). Held at the University of Maryland, the workshop was funded through a grant from USADF, a U.S. Government agency established to support African-owned enterprises, which improve lives in poor and vulnerable communities on the continent.

Over 80 participants took part in the 10-day meeting including 22 USADF Country Program Coordinators, 22 country partners who provide technical backstopping to the grantees in each country, 37 staff from the USADF Washington Office and two RUFORUM representatives.

The goal of the event was to transform the way USADF staff and country teams think about Africa and the impact that their interventions create on the continent, hence the workshop theme, “Transforming our mindsets.

“To do things differently we need to think differently. This means think in a different way about USADF programs, partnerships, and pathways to prosperity for the communities we serve,” said USADF President, CD Glin at the workshop. He added that mindset transformation is essential for adapting to current realities and becoming innovative about resilience, measuring change and catalyzing enterprise growth.

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 By Hanaa Tharwat Mohamed Ibrahim


My name is Hanaa Tharwat Mohamed Ibrahim and I come from Sudan. I hold a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in Soil and Water Science from the University of Gezira which I obtained in March 2009. After my graduation, I worked as an Assistant at the Agricultural Research Corporation in Sudan in the laboratory of the Land and Water Research Center from 2009 to 2012. I then took up a position as a Cooperative (part-time) Lecturer at the University of Gezira from 2012 to 2013. These two opportunities at the beginning of my career exposed me to academia and I developed an interest in furthering my studies.

Although scholarships were rare, I was very fortunate and did not have to wait too long. In 2013, shortly after my appointment as Cooperative Lecturer at the University of Gezira, I was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a Master of Science in Agro-Meteorology and Natural Risk Management at the University of Haramaya in Ethiopia. The scholarship was awarded by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).

Pursuing a degree outside my home country was a life changing experience. The first year was particularly hard because it was not just my first time to study outside Sudan, but my first outside my hometown, because all my previous education had been within the same city in Sudan. I could not speak nor understand English well, so I had to work extra hard to improve my language skills in the first year. I am so grateful to my lecturers and colleagues who helped and encouraged me along the way. It is unbelievable that despite my initial challenge – the language barrier, I still managed to complete the course within two years. I graduated in July 2015.

Studying abroad also gave me great experiences. I discovered new foods, traditions and social atmospheres. My understanding and appreciation of nations -including my own country, their people and history greatly improved, and I now appreciate the importance of sovereignty. One of the biggest benefits of my time abroad was the opportunity to make new friends from different countries and backgrounds, which also helped me discover myself as I got a better understanding of different cultures. As a young woman, the idea of being in a new place by myself was overwhelming not only to me, but also my family. The situation tested my ability to adapt to diverse situations while improving my skills and making a contribution to society.

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