Acumen is proud to announce the selection of our fourth cohort of East Africa Fellows. After a competitive application process, we’ve chosen a diverse group of 21 leaders from five different countries in the region: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and, for the first time, Ethiopia. This year’s Fellows are fighting poverty and changing lives across East Africa through unique initiatives that range from providing much-needed ambulance services to helping make hygienic sanitation more accessible and affordable to empowering young women to start viable agro-enterprises and more. Read more about each Fellow and their inspiring work below.
Oliver is the founder and CEO of Giovane Impresa, a social enterprise that delivers financial and enterprise education to youth and their families enabling them to make smart financial decisions, create their own economic opportunities and thrive. He has been instrumental in helping over 2,000 young people take charge of their financial future. In the past decade, Oliver has worked in management consulting and in the Kenyan banking industry. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya and holds an associate degree from the Kenya Institute of Bankers and a business administration degree from Kenya Methodist University.
Eric is the founder and CEO of KadAfrica, a commercial passion fruit farm and outgrower network. KadAfrica works with more than 1,500 out-of-school girls aged 14 to 20 to build sustainable livelihood options by starting viable agro-enterprises cultivating passion fruit. As a Ugandan, born and raised in Kenya, Eric passionately believes that involving youth in agriculture is key to developing Uganda and the region. Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts from Monash University, South Africa and is a recipient of the 2014 SEED Africa Award, the 2013 Africa Young Achievers’ Award in the Agriculture and Agro-Processing category, and is a 2014 Unreasonable East Africa Fellow.
Vitalis is the founder of Hopewell Educational & Development Services, an organization that designed and founded the first free secondary school program in Kenya. He continues crafting relevant training programs to empower very poor children and youth with life skills that enable them to earn a decent livelihood. Hopewell’s outreach programs include the eight-year-old Freedom for Girls Program that provides 2,500 school girls with sanitary products to allow them to stay in school. Vitalis lives in Nakuru, Kenya and holds a master’s degree in development studies from St. Paul’s University, Kenya.
Janet Aika Matemu
Janet is passionate about using technology to facilitate social change, movement and revolution. Janet is the Technology Manager with Jacaranda Health, a social enterprise committed to reducing maternal and neonatal deaths in East Africa. Jacaranda uses innovative approaches and evidence-based practices to deliver friendly, cost-effective services to underserved communities. As Technology Manager, Janet has developed and implemented electronic and mobile-health solutions to provide quality care and empower marginalized communities. Janet is from Nairobi, Kenya and holds a Bachelor of Science in Computational Biochemistry and a Post Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics.
Collins is the founder of Youth Pro Empowerment, a social enterprise helping young entrepreneurs and small businesses in low-income areas achieve their goals by developing robust business models that serve the needs of their end users and can survive dynamic business environments. Collins lives in Nairobi, Kenya, is a Certified Public Accountant and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) at Catholic University of Eastern Africa.
Anthony is the founder of Katchy Kollections Ltd, a for-profit social enterprise he began at the age of sixteen. Katchy Kollections seeks to eliminate poverty by creating employment opportunities in the fashion space “one stitch at a time.” Anthony’s creative journey is about the preservation of cultural heritage while bringing about social change. Today the company employs 22 full-time staff from disadvantaged communities and they have trained 50 women in the construction of fashion accessories. Anthony lives in Nairobi, Kenya and in 2015, won the FA254 award for Africa’s Best Upcoming Fashion Designer in the African Designer for Tomorrow competition and will have his products showcased on eBay Germany.
Havi directs a program at the Tafaria cHub (creative hub) which immerses visual and performing artists, writers and designers into rural communities in the company of local artisans where they investigate local problems and generate solutions expressed in a creative medium. For example, enlivening the interiors of dull medical dispensaries with mood-uplifting sculpture, or using light installations to mark and delimit bodies of water to reduce the risk of accidental drowning. In addition to his work at Tafaria, he runs Havis, a market research and information design consultancy. Havi is from Laikipia County, Kenya and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a Ph.D in graphic and information design.
Speciosa is the founder and director of Machakos Surgery where she is also an anesthesiologist and pain specialist. Machakos Surgery operates as a surgical clinic in eastern Kenya, the first network of surgical hospitals in Kenya offering quality, affordable and ethical care. Speciosa works with children living with disabilities as part of a team dedicated to restoring dignity to patients through surgically correcting deformities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery and a master’s degree in anesthesiology.
Millicent is the Head Teacher at Nyamninia Primary School and the patron of the school’s 4-K club–a student led agricultural club that fosters self-sufficiency. Through participation in the club, children from poor backgrounds have found a platform for acquiring self-sustaining life skills and learning the benefits of agriculture at an early age. Millicent is from Siaya County, Kenya, holds a degree in education from Bondo University and is in pursuit of a degree at the University of Nairobi.
Dennis is the Sales and Operations Director at Sanergy, a pioneering social enterprise in Nairobi, Kenya which builds healthy, prosperous communities in informal settlements by making hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible. In just three years, Sanergy has launched over 660 Fresh Life facilities run by a network of 300 operators who serve 25,000 residents daily with hygienic sanitation. Prior to joining Sanergy, Dennis managed primary healthcare programs in South Sudan for six years. Dennis holds a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in public health.
Judith is the co-founder and Operations Director of Akirachix, a Kenyan organization that nurtures generations of women who use technology to develop innovations and solutions for Africa. Through Akirachix, she is increasing the number of women who create technological solutions and, in effect, the perception of women in technology. Judith is a 2014 International Focus Fellow and recipient of the Anita Borg Change Agent Award 2011 for Women and Technology. She lives in Nairobi, Kenya and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in applied computing at the University of Nairobi.
Krupa is the founder and CEO of Anza, a business incubator that provides a range of services to start, support and scale social impact businesses in Tanzania. Krupa is passionate about the transformational potential social businesses have on society and has infused these beliefs into all of Anza’s activities. Anza supports over 104 start-up entrepreneurs with mentorship and financing, in addition to running a number of in-house social businesses as subsidiaries of Anza. Krupa lives in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania.
Jean is the MBA Director of Admissions and Operations for Oklahoma Christian University in Rwanda, a higher learning community that transforms lives for Christian faith, leadership and service. His work at Oklahoma Christian University acts as a bridge connecting underemployed, high-potential women and men to jobs in the fastest growing sectors of the economy after earning their MBA. He believes that educating people is the wisest and most effective investment a developing country can make. Jean is from Kigali, Rwanda, has held Accountant and Budget Manager positions in the Parliament of Rwanda and is currently pursuing his Ph.D.
Jon is the founder and Managing Director of The Office, a unique community innovation hub in Kigali, Rwanda. The Office is pioneering a new model for building collaborative, member-funded community spaces that facilitate collaboration across entrepreneurial and creative ecosystems in a city. Their community in Kigali consists of social entrepreneurs, freelancers, artists, hackers and entrepreneurial support organizations and there are always diverse events taking place in their space. Previously, Jon worked at the Rwandan Ministry of Finance and with The Economist Group in London. As a professional economist, he regularly consults for development organizations, financial institutions and companies.
Birikit is an African feminist and the founding director of Women’s Health Association of Ethiopia, a grassroots knowledge-building organization that focuses on training women in life skills as well as health matters. Women’s Health works across nine regions in Ethiopia seeking economic empowerment through investing in marginalized women’s group businesses. The project has reached over 500 women in four years. Birikit holds master’s degrees in social work and rural development from Addis Ababa University and Indira Gandhi National Open University, respectively. She was a Peace, Security and Development Fellow at The African Leadership Centre, King’s College London.
Selamawit is a lawyer and a gender activist and works as a program coordinator for the International Samaritan, an organization that serves victims of severe poverty in developing countries. Selamawit works on a project providing access to education for children living in garbage dump areas. She is from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, holds a master’s degree in sociology and a degree in law and management. She was a Peace, Security and Development Fellow at The African Leadership Centre, King’s College London.
Kibret is the founder and owner of Tebita Ambulance Pre-Hospital Emergency Medical, the first and only private ambulance service in Ethiopia. While working at the largest teaching and referral hospital in Addis Ababa, Kibret handled numerous emergency cases, and due to the lack of ambulance services, many lives were unnecessarily lost. He founded Tebita in 2008 with the sole objective to try and save lives. “Tebita” is Amharic for “Drop,” a message to force every citizen to think about his or her drop of contribution to humanity. To date, Tebita has a fleet of eight ambulances, has provided ambulance services to more than 30,000 clients and emergency training to more than 25,000 trainees. Haling from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kibret is a nurse anesthetist by profession.
Daniel is the founder and coordinator of Mission for Civic Awareness and Health (MICAH), an outreach program that trains university students as social entrepreneurs. MICAH empowers young professionals to be community leaders geared towards transforming lives in their regions. MICAH draws students from various disciplines and has impacted over 8,000 lives across various districts of Uganda. Daniel holds a bachelor’s degree in development studies from Uganda Christian University and is pursuing a Master of Science in Leadership and Governance at Makerere University’s business school.
Faith is the founder of SEMA, a youth-targeted initiative which creates policy change and aims to shift mentality and behavior to end the cycle of gender-based violence (GBV) in Kenya. She implements the program at Strategic Applications International, where she is the Gender-Based Violence Program Officer. Through SEMA, Faith has reached over 4,000 university, secondary school and community level youth with GBV training on awareness and advocacy. SEMA also launched the first GBV reporting phone app in Kenya. Faith lives in Nairobi, Kenya, holds a law degree and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in governance, peace and security at Africa Nazarene University.
Samson is the Health Development Officer at Innovation Africa which works to bring Israeli innovations such as solar power and information and communications technology to rural African villages. At Innovation Africa, Samson works in project planning, monitoring and evaluation and has linked the organization with government and other partner organizations. He is from Mbale, Uganda and holds a degree in medicine and surgery from Mbarara University.
Brenda is the CEO and co-founder of Brainstorm Africa, an online media organization whose mission is to address the need for critical thought in Kenya and Africa at large. Brainstorm Africa runs an award-winning weekly journal, Brainstorm, as well as a quarterly topical e-book. Brainstorm has had over 70,000 unique readers since its inception and its books have been downloaded over 5,000 times. Brenda holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Hons) in Marketing and is an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Affiliate.