An interview with Justin Mugabe

Justin Mugabe is a CLI alum from Goma, DRC. CLI connected him with the Bridge2Rwanda program which afforded him the opportunity to study at Pitzer College in California. Last month, he graduated from Pitzer and we asked him to answer some questions about his experience. See below!

CLI: Tell us about your early years. What were some of the challenges and turning points?

Justin: I joined CLI in 2012, after high school graduation. It was in July 2012 that a CLI member came to my high school, Institut Mugara, to pick the top five performers of the year 2012. We went through a 2-day training program, and thereafter we had to take an exam so that the CLI team could select the 16 top performers (8 boys and 8 girls). Lucky enough, I was one of the 16 top performers.

All the 16 top performers went through a one-year leadership training program. The leadership program emphasized entrepreneurship. We learned how to design a micro-project, how to make the implementation plan, and how to create impact in the community. The other goal of the leadership training program was to connect all students to various international organizations that would help in the search for international scholarships. After 18 months of the training, all the 16 of us went through a competition in Bridge2Rwanda, an American program that selects highly competitive students to prepare them for one gap-year program so they can compete for international scholarships in the US, Canada, and Europe. It is after joining Bridge2Rwanda that I got my scholarship to attend Pitzer College, a member of the Claremont Colleges in Southern California.

CLI: How did you discover CLI? What was your favorite part of the program? What was your least favorite?

Justin: I discovered CLI in 2012, when a CLI member came to my school during the 2012 selection process in Goma. The best part about the program was entrepreneurial training. It was my first time to learn how to design and implement a project.

I do not recall any least favorite. The only issue I can think of is that CLI is still unknown to many Congolese young people. So, marking the program to Congolese would be better so to get as many competitive students as possible.

CLI: Summarize your theory of leadership. What are the most important elements? Who is a leader you admire?

Justin: I would say that leadership and management are different. In leadership, the best is to empower everyone to be able to do the same job even after the absence of the leader. For instance, a president is a good leader if he is able to empower other people to do either the same job that he is doing or better. On the other hand, management is not about cloning people. Management is about capitalizing on someone’s strengths. For instance, a manager could easily come to an understanding that it makes sense to capitalize on an employee’s strength to do a better job not in the morning, but in the night.

Abraham Lincoln, Patrice Lumumba, Nelson Mandela, President Kagame, Ronald Reagan, and Elon Musk are my most admired leaders.

CLI: What is your vision for the future of the Congo? How are you working to make this vision possible?

Justin: I envision a Congo that an African leader in Technology. One way to get there is to empower and incentivize creative minds so that they can build everlasting technology businesses using available resources. As an entrepreneur, I want to build the largest Fin Tech hub of the Congo, and I am already on the path, having launched SillonBlue Technologies, a Congolese tech startup.

Nathaniel Houghton