Friday, September 1, 2017

Feel Good Friday - Akili Dada

These Feel Good Friday posts give me an opportunity to do some virtual globe trekking. Last week we were in California with the Surfrider Foundation so this week we're going to Kenya to profile Akili Dada.

As summarized on their Facebook pageAkili Dada is "a leadership incubator empowering the next
generation of African women leaders." In Swahili, "akili" means intellect, ability, strategy, knowledge, competence and "dada" means sister; a term of endearment, respect and familiarity among women.

I learned about this organization when I read Zachary Ochieng's blog on about a 19 year-old woman in Kenya who established a library that now serves 1000 students! As explained in the HerStory section of the website, "Akili Dada was founded in 2005 by Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg to address the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Africa." She and her husband used money given to them as wedding gifts to fund the first four high school scholarships.

"Akili Dada's mission is to nurture transformative leadership in girls and young women from underprivileged backgrounds to meet the urgent need for more African Women in Leadership." Their vision is, "a world in which African women leaders are actively participating in key decision-making processes across sectors." The strategies to achieve this vision focus on financial investment, leadership development, mentorship and skills training and are carried out through three main programs. 

The Young Changemakers Program provides high school scholarships, mentoring, leadership academies and requires the participants to develop a community service project. 121 girls, ages 13-19 have developed leadership skills and created social change initiatives that have affected over 27,000 community members. Watch this video of an Akili Dada graduate who has founded a developer school to teach people programming.

The Gap Year Program takes advantage of the mandatory gap year between high school and university to provide girls with skills based learning, such as coding and social media, experiential learning through internships and mentorships and intensive college preparation courses. The 52 girls that have been through this program have logged 8,778 hours of community service and volunteer teaching.

The Innovation in Leadership Program is a year-long fellowship targeted to young women ages 18-35 and helps them build entrepreneurial and career readiness skills so they can develop solutions for the challenges facing their communities.

You can watch this 16 minute introductory video for more details and to hear from program graduates  or check out their entire video library. If you like what you see and you live in Kenya you can become a mentor at Akili Dada. If you don't, you can always make a donation and support their work by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @AkiliDada

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