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Leading Change - Africa Leadership Program Now Partnering With WESLI

Posted September 13, 2018 | by WESLI
What happens when those with knowledge to shape our world for the better cannot develop that ability because of finances? Having asked himself daily, Ousmane Kabre, President of Leading Change, a non-profit organization, is focusing on impacting positive change in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is ranked 149 out of 150 of the poorest countries in the world according to the World Bank and United Nations Development Program. This level of poverty is something Kabre had to face head on when he began his own delivery business to help support himself and his family at the age of 13.

“When I look back to those times, I cherish all the moments and think highly of the people who open the doors for me, especially Mrs. Helene Ouedraogo, because I know no one can achieve anything alone,” said Kabre about his humble beginnings.

Through his hard work and through relationships he forged along the way, Kabre came to the United States, perfected his English at the Wisconsin ESL Institute (WESLI), and advanced his education first at Madison College and ultimately at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. There he completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Now working in assurance services at Ernst and Young LLP, Kabre believes he is in the unique position to pay his experience forward to the future leaders of Burkina Faso.

The goal is for Leading Chance, Kabre’s non-profit, is to advance the quality of life and improve the world standing of the citizens and country of Burkina Faso. The ambitious plan works by identifying students who are high achieving and have a goal to help Burkina Faso and to invest in them, creating a chain reaction of investing in others.

The investment comes as an academic scholarship for high-achieving students to study in the United States. Students who are awarded the Leading Change Scholarship will make a commitment to return to Burkina Faso upon completion of their academic journey and continue to pay their opportunity forward to others. Leading Change will provide full academic and living scholarships to selected students that are renewable each year based on the student’s performance.

WESLI partnered with Kabre after he reached out to campus leadership sharing his scholarship program and his desire for the students to begin their journey at WESLI, just as he had.

WESLI President, Carlos Osorio was inspired with Kabre’s passion and commitment to others that he wanted to provide more than English language lessons.
Osorio emphasizes that “WESLI has been committed to the success of international students of all kinds seeking high level academics in the United States since 1981. We feel that Leading Change’s mission is honorable and want to make a significant impact towards success of these students in the organization’s early years.”

WESLI has done just that creating the Carlos Osorio Scholarship for Change that will provide full academic funding for students selected by Leading Change in 2018 through their education at WESLI.

“We are excited about this opportunity to make an important impact where we can. The name of the scholarship was introduced by our staff unbeknownst to Carlos as a way to honor him and his commitment to life long education for international students,” said WESLI’s Director, Jennifer Phillips.

Like Kabre, Osorio was a WESLI student prior to completing his MBA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an international student. It wasn’t until years later when the former WESLI owners were to retire that Osorio saw an opportunity to make an impact in other international students’ lives and took over WESLI, leading it into the future.

The first award recipient for Leading Change is enrolled for English classes at WESLI for fall 2018. Ousmane sees this as the continuation of many years of work.

Kabre said, “We can wait for others to change, where the wait will be long, or we can invest in those who just need the right opportunity and circumstances to show the world what they are capable of.”

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