Meet Our Team

Adam Cooper

Dr Adam Cooper

Chief Research Specialist
Adam Cooper is the Chief Research Specialist in the Equitable Education and Economies division at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. His research focuses on the sociologies of young people and education, particularly the intersections of education and the world of work. He leads research projects on young people's transitions into the workforce and their aspirations for personal and global change within educational institutions and working life. Recently, he has been working on a project related to education and skills for the informal economic sector. Adam also played a key role in hosting eight Young African Research Fellows, contributing to the creation of a virtual museum in 2022 and 2023.
Ms Sindi-Leigh McBride

Ms Sindi-Leigh McBride

Phd Research Trainee
Sindi-Leigh McBride, a Johannesburg-based writer and PhD Candidate at the University of Basel, focuses on the politics and poetics of climate change in South Africa and Nigeria. She is a research fellow at Creative Knowledge Resources, an interdisciplinary project at the University of Cape Town documenting socially engaged art. Additionally, she works as a research trainee at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), studying youth livelihoods and climate change. Her arts criticism and short stories have been published in various outlets, including Africa’s a Country, Artthrob, and The Johannesburg Book Review. She co-edited "Lost Libraries, Burnt Archives" (2023), a collection of works addressing the tragic destruction of the African Studies Library at the University of Cape Town by fire in April 2021. Sindi-Leigh is enthusiastic about the African Youth Livelihoods Virtual Museum as a model for creative knowledge production and its potential to enhance our understanding of youth and work in Africa.
Mr Sabelo Mpisi

Mr Sabelo Mpisi

Young African Research Fellow
Sabelo holds a Master's degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa. His research covers diverse topics such as ageing in rural KwaZulu Natal and sanitary conditions in South African townships, shedding light on unique social dynamics. He is passionate about exploring the experiences of vulnerable social groups, material-human interaction, and the challenges facing youth livelihoods. As a Young African Research Fellow (YARF) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), he worked on a project examining structural barriers to fulfilling work for young people in Africa, further fueling his interest in unconventional knowledge-sharing methods like podcasting and virtual curation. Sabelo is excited about using the virtual museum to engage diverse audiences in dialogues about youth livelihoods and development, seeing it as a beacon of hope and empowerment, showcasing the resilience and creativity of African youth amidst adversity.
James Tayali

Mr James Tayali

Young African Research Fellow
James, a Young African Research Fellow (YARF) at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), is deeply passionate about entrepreneurship, public health, and education research in Africa. His goal is to empower communities to combat poverty, disease, and youth unemployment. Before joining HSRC, he served as a country impact specialist for One Acre Fund, a nonprofit in Malawi. There, he conducted research and developed innovative agriculture training materials, benefiting over 56,000 farmers and improving food security while addressing malnutrition. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, with a scholarship from the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP). Additionally, he earned a Master of Philosophy in Health Innovation from the University of Cape Town, supported by the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF). James is an accomplished young entrepreneur, founding three social ventures in Malawi. Deal Malawi is a leading online marketplace, ICI Africa offers peer mentorship for secondary school students, and Keki-Mawe is a food manufacturing start-up that produces nutritious food to combat malnutrition and anemia among women and children. In recognition of his impactful work, he won the 2023 MasterCard Foundation Alumnus Impact Award at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zimingonaphakade Sigenu

Ms Zimingonaphakade Sigenu

Young African Research Fellow
Zimingonaphakade Sigenu holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. Her research interests include indigenous knowledge systems, higher education transformation, and youth. She has experience in youth engagement, monitoring and evaluation, and social research. Zimie is a Mellon Mays fellow, an alumnus of the Mastercard Foundation Scholar’s Programme (MCFSP), and a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. She is thrilled to be part of this project, as it allowed her to form meaningful relationships with peers from various African countries, fostering unity and solidarity. The virtual museum represents a space for African youth to understand and address their needs, empowering them to be active contributors to their communities and the greater good.
Theresa Ayerigah

Ms Theresa Ayerigah

Young African Research Fellow
Theresa Ayerigah, a Ghanaian scholar, holds academic qualifications in History, Political Science, and International Relations. Her research interests include fashion, gender justice, regional integration, livelihoods, and economic diplomacy. Her primary objective is to contribute to effective policies and research outcomes in bilateral and multilateral negotiations, with a focus on advancing a comprehensive continental trade strategy. Alongside her academic pursuits, Theresa is actively involved in the fashion industry, owning multiple businesses including a clothing store in Ghana, a mobile beauty salon, and aspiring to launch her own skincare and clothing lines. Her main goal, however, is to be a positive role model for young girls, believing in the transformative power of knowledge sharing and the importance of highlighting the experiences of African youth. She sees the virtual museum as a crucial platform to foster understanding, inspire positive change, and empower young individuals to shape a better future.
Emmanuel Ampomah

Mr Emmanuel Ampomah

Young African Research Fellow
Emmanuel Ampomah is a Young African Research Fellow (YARF) in the Human Sciences Research Council’s Equitable Education and Economies research division. He holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Cape Town and a BA (honors) degree in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Ghana. Emmanuel’s research focuses on localized conflicts, identity politics, mediation, peacebuilding, African politics, and youth livelihoods in Africa. Emmanuel has experience working in the higher education sector as an instructor and tutor. He is passionate about leadership, youths, and development in Africa.
Ibrahim Bahati

Mr Ibrahim Bahati

Young African Research Fellow
Ibrahim Bahati is a mental health advocate, wellness Life Coach, poet, writer, international researcher, and Black/African Activist from Uganda. With over 5 years of experience, he has focused on food security, women's economic empowerment, masculinities and conflict, climate change activism, and global education. Ibrahim holds 2 masters degrees in Rural Community Development and Women & Gender Studies. He values Love, Excellence, and Fairness. Excited to showcase Ugandan stories in the virtual museum, he aims to highlight positive agency in how African youths reinvent themselves over time.
Liona Muchenje

Ms Liona Muchenje

Young African Research Fellow
Liona Muchenje is a young African entrepreneur, agricultural enthusiast, and Youtuber originally from Harare, Zimbabwe. She grew up in the vibrant Chishawasha village, where her family practiced subsistence farming. Liona holds a bachelor's degree in Political Economy from the University of California, Berkeley, and boasts a diverse academic background, having lived, studied, and worked across four continents. Her passions lie in macroeconomics, youth entrepreneurship, and innovation. Additionally, she excels in creating social media marketing strategies for startups, with expertise in branding and engaging marketing material. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a dedication to empowering African youth, Liona is excited to contribute to the Virtual Museum on African youth livelihoods. She believes the project can inspire and inform those seeking solutions to the challenges faced by African youth.

Ms Anita Owiti

Young African Research Fellow
Anita Owiti is a Young African Research Fellow at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), specializing in Inclusive Economic Development. Her passion lies in sustainable development, green economy, climate change, and renewable energy in Africa. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environment and Development from the University of Edinburgh, where she was a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Egerton University in Kenya. Anita's expertise includes significant projects such as the Strategic Environmental Assessment for Tatu City and Ecological Assessment for Aberdare Forest. She co-authored the Waste Management strategy for the National Environment Management Authority in 2016. Additionally, she supports a Social Entrepreneurs (SEs) umbrella organization focused on Health, Education, and Income generation. Having worked with colleagues from various countries, Anita's perspective on youth unemployment has been shaped. She believes that a virtual museum can inspire youths to think innovatively, offering potential solutions to their challenges and alternative livelihood opportunities.

Mr Krish Chetty

Research Manager
Krish is a Research Manager at the Human Sciences Research Council’s Equitable Education and Economies Division. He holds a Master’s degree in Knowledge and Information Management from the University of Stellenbosch and is currently pursuing a PhD in Computing Science at Nelson Mandela University. Krish's research focuses on using innovative technologies to address poverty, inequality, and unemployment, particularly in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, Knowledge Management, Digital Inclusion, and Renewable Energy. He actively contributes to the South African BRICS Think Tank, sharing valuable insights with fellow experts. Krish is enthusiastic about the Virtual Museum, which combines African livelihood experiences with virtual reality technology, reflecting the experiences of young people on the continent.

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