Meet Jobarteh Fofana, the Gambian who leaves banking for leadership training


By Momodou Jarju (MJ)

Jobarteh Fofana is a Gambian and a native of Jarra Sokoya in the Lower River Region (LRR). He earns his bachelor’s degree in Business Management at the University of The Gambia (UTG) in 2005. Thereafter, he started working in the banking sector until 2014 when he left The Gambia for United States (US) to pursue his Masters degree in Business Management.  Fofana was enrolled at the Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2015 and graduated in 2017.

Upon graduation in 2017, Fofana thought of creating something that would make a difference and impact society. The idea of forming a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) came to mind and he founded one. The NGO was formerly called Center for Leadership and Management for Sustainable Development. But it has since been changed to Center for Leadership, Character and Ethics Development (CLCED). The change of name was meant to align their NGO’s name to their strategic vision, which is to build and develop better leaders who are strong in character and ethics to create a future that they envision for the country and the world at large.

“So essentially, our organization’s vision is to develop and invest in bringing leaders that are passionate and have vision to impact society,” he told Foroyaa in an interview recently.

Fofana is currently living in US but he is planning to return home to focus on ‘developing next generation of leaders.’

As the founder of CLCED, Fofana said he has a team that shared his vision to work together to develop better leaders. To him, the traditional leadership model or style is focus on leadership skills, while character – which he believes is the main thing – is often left out. He said a leader must have strong character for him or her to be able to inspire, motivate and energize people to follow in achieving their vision.

“Character is the most important component in developing even a human being much more a leader,” he said.

The UTG product said the desire to train Gambians who are interested to become leaders with strong character motivated him to leave banking and establish a non-profit making organization that is purpose-driven.

“So character and ethics are central corner stones in leadership. Without them, you would not be able to achieve anything,” he said.

Asked to explain what he meant by leaders needing to have strong character, Mr. Fofana said a leader should have strong character traits which include having the commitment to do what is right, be passionate to do what s/he feels is good at, have the desire and drive to work for the common good, and also be responsible.

He said love for one’s country or being patriotic is also another character trait a leader must have and values like honesty ought to be championed. To him, what one does is what makes the person a leader and not the title; saying true leaders do what is right and not what is convenient.

Fofana’s NGO, which is registered both in The Gambia and US, has since trained village development committees in 2018. And they are mentoring Gambian kids living in US, particularly in Madison City, Wisconsin.

“We are educating them in their culture, educating them in the area of leadership; educating them about who they are and where they come from,” he said.

Fofana said currently, they are building partnership with strategic partner institutions in order to work with them to help develop their organizational leadership. He believes this will enhance the service delivery of the institutions.

But he said they are faced with challenges on this drive because some Gambian institutional leaders are not welcoming their proposal, which is free of charge. He said he has written to so many organizations offering them free leadership training but to no avail.

Fofana said he strongly believes he owes his country a moral duty to contribute his quota to make a difference.

“There is total lack of leadership across all sectors. There is no sector in this country where you will not see lack of leadership. And we need to improve that leadership that is why we formed this NGO,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fofana’s NGO is planning to roll out a free leadership development and mentorship training for young aspiring future leaders and change makers on six priority areas. These include Leadership and Management Development training; Character, Ethics and moral education and development; Citizenship and political education & Orientation; Youth Development & Mentorship; Financial Education; and Environmental Sustainability Education.