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Middle Bit: Young African Leaders coming to Des Moines again this summer

Drake University

For the third consecutive summer Drake University will host the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, according to a story Wednesday in the Times-Delphic.

The six-week Young African Leaders Initiative sends fellows to 40 locations across the country; Each city has 25 young African business leaders with an established record of accomplishment. The program is very competitive, receiving 40,000 applications each year and only selecting 1,000.

Last summer the program started in May and ended July 30. The fellows visited different companies around Central Iowa and received advice from John Pappajohn.

One fellow specifically—Asher Adeniyi—formed partnerships with three area businesses to benefit his home country of Nigeria.

And according to the Times-Delphic story, Drake University has a number of African students who can also participate in the program and serve as “student ambassadors.”

What else happened…


A Boulder-based gene-editing technology company completed $55.5 million in Series C funding – The Denver Post

When parenting and entrepreneurship collide – The Denver Post


Chicago’s coworking spaces are building more than startup careers – SPN


Talking connectivity in Iowa – SPN


C2FO raises massive $100 million round for global expansion –

State of Entrepreneurship Address: Redefine entrepreneur through inclusion –

Lean Media, a Chesterfield-based audience-first programmatic media company closed $500,000 in seed funding – St. Louis Business Journal


FarmAfield launches agriculture investment marketplace – SPN


Middle Bit: Young African Leaders coming to Des Moines again this summer | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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