Branches Worldwide hopes to empower young leaders around the globe

Branches Worldwide hopes to empower young leaders around the globe
Dave Mast

Branches Worldwide President Brian Miller, left, and director Dan Owolabi have made a commitment to reach out globally to 30 young entrepreneurs whom they believe can help change the culture in 30 different nations.


Branches Worldwide, a local nonprofit organization based in Walnut Creek, partners with young adults age 25-40 on a global level. The organization seeks out women and men who have a track record of leadership ability.

Branches Worldwide is in the beginning stages of connecting with 30 young leaders from around the globe who they feel will be capable of changing the lives of many people in their own nations.

The goal is to connect with these young leaders who have exhibited great promise and to build relationships with each over the next three decades as they walk alongside the young people, providing leadership, teaching, mentoring, and offering resources and networking capabilities.

The driving forces behind Branches Worldwide are founder Brian Miller and executive director Dan Owolabi. Joining them are Jacquie Hatfield, director of operations; Ty Hamsher, director of marketing and outreach; Ella Zollinger, ministry partnership specialist; and Tracy Miller, financial director.

Brian Miller said the idea for Branches Worldwide grew out of a seminar he attended in 2017. The keynote speaker there was forecasting what several countries from around the world might look like 30 years from now.

“I felt very deeply that these words were meant for me,” Miller said. “I wasn’t sure how, but as time went on, I felt called to impact 30 leaders from 30 different countries for 30 years. That theme developed, and I started vetting it out, and by the end of 2017, it had developed into something real.”

With a core belief that servant leadership needed to be the focal point of Branches Worldwide, he needed to find someone to share his vision who had the same driving principals.

“I feel like God put that idea in my head, but I wasn’t meant to operate the day-to-day operations,” Miller said.

Enter Owolabi, Miller’s first option, and he quickly came on board as the executive director of daily operations.

The two men have known each other for years and developed a deep appreciation for each other’s faith and commitment to servant leadership in their communities.

After a career that included teaching at Garaway High School and being a pastor at Walnut Creek Mennonite and then NewPointe Church, Owolabi realized something.

“In every one of my big transitions in life, I would go and talk to Brian,” Owolabi said. "Recently I realized I was ready to take on a new challenge, although I wasn’t sure what that meant exactly, so I called Brian.”

Miller provided a number of options in his advice to Owolabi. He then asked him if he would be interested in heading up a nonprofit organization geared toward identifying and investing in credible young business leaders around the world.

That struck Owolabi as something that would perfectly fit his passion.

“My heart has been hit hard by the leadership bug,” Owolabi said. “I think it is something that can change the world, and it is something that God has laid on my heart. When he said that, I got really excited.”

Owolabi came into Branches Worldwide part-time in 2018 and then became the full-time executive director this year.

“No one works harder than Dan, and when he puts his mind to something, he gets it done,” Miller said. “He is very focused and very honest, and it felt really right to bring him on board.”

Miller said the plan is to meet each leader where they are in their faith and their business practices. He said the training could be introducing each leader to new markets, instilling the servant-leadership ideals, creating microloans, and building relationships and networks for each leader that they might not have otherwise.

“I am really excited about creating a curriculum in which we can teach and promote servant-leadership principals,” Miller said. “It’s not counter to typical mission work, but it is certainly a different way of impacting communities, not by going there and working with people, but by connecting with a leader and training them to go out and help others so that they can make an impact.”

The two men began pouring themselves into identifying possible young leaders who maintained the high-character drive and would grasp the concept and run with it.

The goal was to find five leaders on each of six continents. Miller said the list continues to be tweaked, but the core nations are in place, and leaders have been identified.

Owolabi said it has been exciting to sift through the various leaders who have come to their attention in the identified countries.

The first leader with whom they have already begun working is from Thailand. Owolabi has made trips, done numerous FaceTime calls and spoke with a dozen people who knew this young man and spoke highly of him.

“We did a lot of research, but the biggest plus for me was when I actually met him,” Owolabi said. “It was exciting to see what God has done through his life, seeing his level of faithfulness and business acumen. I came away very impressed, and that is key. If we are going to invest in someone for 30 years, we need to know from the outset that they can do it on their own and we can light a fire and help guide them to go even further.”

Owolabi said because the undertaking is so vast, they are taking it in stages as they develop relationships and create a curriculum designed specifically for each leader.

“Leadership in the United States is different than leadership in other countries,” Owolabi said. “We have seen that, and that is something we want to be sensitive to as we proceed, but the one common thread is that it is the leadership of Christ that holds it all together. One thing we really want to do is to simply move at the speed of relationships.”

To learn more about Branches Worldwide or to make a donation to its effort, visit

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