John Mustapha Kutiyote, a Students For Liberty (SFL) alumnus and Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Students’ Organization for Liberty and Entrepreneurship (SOLE) in South Sudan, has transformed the lives of more than 500 African women by combating the culture of male ownership and educating women on their property rights.
John’s journey of making a change started in 2014 when he joined SFL as a student at the Africa International University in Kenya. He quickly realized his leadership abilities and established a chapter at his campus, serving as its head for over a year. Upon returning to South Sudan, John sought to continue promoting the principles of liberty through the Students For Liberty brand.
However, the government mistakenly linked Students For Liberty to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, an opposing political party in South Sudan, and prohibited the formation of a student group. Despite this, John’s determination to achieve his goals was unwavering. By establishing the Students’ Organization for Liberty and Entrepreneurship, he successfully circumvented government obstacles and made spreading the ideas of liberty possible.
John believes that a free and entrepreneurial society in which people can make life choices that promote peaceful coexistence and prosperity is key to a freer future for all. Such a society, however, is unattainable as long as cultural norms restrict half the population from exercising their constitutional property rights.
As the well-known Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” To end cultural discrimination that takes private property rights away from women in South Sudan, John launched an awareness campaign advocating for the rights of women to own land. His entrepreneurial idea won the 2019 Atlas Network’s Think Tank Shark Tank Award. The $5,000 award enabled John to host workshops and community events to teach 500+ women about their rights. As a result, 20+ women are now utilizing their property for business purposes.
In 2022, the Students’ Organization for Liberty and Entrepreneurship started a Stakeholders Training Program to educate individuals with authority to uphold and enforce the rights of women to own property in South Sudan on how to combat harmful cultural practices. Over 100 leaders of women’s groups, police officers, and church leaders attended the training to help disseminate the message further. Additionally, SOLE broadcast two talk shows about women’s property rights on a national radio station, reaching approximately 30,000 listeners.
In addition to advocating for women’s rights, John’s organization also offers entrepreneurship courses, holds public lectures, symposiums, and educational seminars for the youth, and promotes the ideas of liberty through radio talk shows on free trade and globalization. Moreover, students interested in classical liberalism can now visit SOLE’s newly established library filled with pro-liberty literature.
John expresses deep gratitude to SFL for all the experiences that have helped him become the person he is today. “I am deeply thankful to SFL for shaping me into the leader I am now,” said John. “Without SFL, I wouldn’t have been able to establish my organization and transform so many lives of African people.”
John is eager to expand the scope of his projects to more locations in South Sudan. He believes that by amplifying the voices of the marginalized, cultural practices can be gradually changed, and more people can attain the freedom to live fulfilling and prosperous lives.
Written by Anastasiia Rusanova