Jonathan Starr – Founder and Headmaster Emeritus of the Abaarso School of Science and Technology.
At less than forty-five years of age, Jonathan Starr has already made quite an impact in Somalialand, an autonomous region of Somalia. His background, in finance, began as an investment manager with Fidelity and then went on to establish an independent finance company. He was very successful but wanted to contribute in a more meaningful way. With his business skills as well as his substantial finances, he started a boarding school (grades 7 – 12) 8 years ago in the African Republic of Somalialand called the Abaarso School of Science and Technology. Student success has been significant, measured in part by numerous students being accepted into Ivy League universities. A regular school week will find students working on their studies for 30 hours, participating in a variety of extracurricular activities and volunteering in the neighbouring community orphanage.
Starr chose to generate change in this venture by active involvement, not merely handing over his wealth. He is an innovator who came up with the unique educational concept where students pay what they can. To make up for the shortfall in tuition, he created some revenue-generating programs like English courses, a school of finance, and an executive MBA track. Essentially, he runs the school much as he did his own business, but not all on his own as he has a significant team of people working with him both in Somalialand and in the US. The two different boards (over 10 members on each) work together to provide the best possible future opportunities for the students.