Vivian Onano

Founder/Director, Leading Light Initiative

Vivian Onano

Vivian Onano is a social entrepreneur and the Founder/Director at Leading Light Initiative. Known for her humanitarian work, she has also been recognized as an emerging woman leader with the courage to lead change on the African continent. With a strong commitment to education, women economic empowerment, and leadership, Vivian plays a leading role in re-defining Africa’s growth and development by creating an inclusive world for women and youth to play a leading role.

Vivian has served as a strategic advisor to government leaders, philanthropists, and the private sector, and is currently a youth advisor to the Global Education Monitoring Report, UNESCO. She is also a board director of Nutrition International, a member of the World Humanitarian Forum Youth Council, a board director of Flying Kites, and a Concordia Africa advisor. Previously she served as a youth advisor to UN Women Global Civil Society Advisory Group, Vice-Chairperson Global Youth Empowerment Fund, a member of Africa Shared Value Leadership Council, and Women Deliver board member.

In 2016, New African Woman Magazine featured her as one of the “30 under 30: Faces Changing Africa Now” and Forbes Woman Africa profiled her as “One to Watch”. Vivian is a recipient of the 2017 New African Woman on the Rise Award and 2016 MTV “Africa Re-Imagined” Award. In 2015 she was honored with Mrs. Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” Award by MORE Magazine for her advocacy work on girls’ education.

Vivian is a respected speaker who often speaks on global education, gender equality, youth empowerment, and international development. She has had prominent speaking opportunities at the United Nations General Assembly, Dubai Cares Annual Summit, Afreximbank Annual Forum, Africa Business Forum, Forbes Woman Africa Regional Forum, World Innovation Summit for Education, Concordia Summit, EurAfrican Forum, and the Clinton Global Initiative, among others. She has written and published numerous articles on various development issues with prominent media houses globally. Vivian is a graduate of Carthage College and holds a Master of Public Affairs from Sciences Po, Paris.