In the coming weeks, we are touching base with our alumnae on what they are currently doing and how far they have come with their lives. To begin the series, we spoke to Sharon Adongo who like a flower, continues to flourish. She spoke to Joyce Ngumba.
AD: What high school did you go to and when did you graduate?
Sharon: I was in Precious Blood Riruta and graduated in 2008. I was the first girl to receive a full, comprehensive scholarship from Akili Dada.
AD: How did Akili Dada impact your life?
Sharon: The Akili Dada scholarship had a big impact on how I thought about the contribution my education was supposed to make in my life. I used to imagine that a good education was supposed to improve my life and those immediately surrounding me. After experiencing the mentorship and mandatory community service that was part of the Akili Dada scholarship, I quickly realized that my education was about changing my society for the better, at whichever level I am capable of, with whatever resources available to me. The Akili Dada scholarship and community created a desire within me to creatively solve societal problems around me, a desire that keeps impacting me in my day-to-day decisions personally and professionally.
AD: Where did you go after the Akili Dada program?
Sharon: I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York on scholarship where I graduated with a BA in Science, Technology & Society with a correlate sequence in Computer Science and graduated in 2014.
AD: How has the college experience prepared you to do what you are doing today?
Sharon: The multi-disciplinary education I received opened my eyes to ways in which science and technology could be used for social good. The internship opportunities I undertook gave me valuable experience into how others were creatively implementing philanthropic technology projects in “the real world”. Interactions with a diverse community helped me articulate my passions, strengths and weaknesses, as well as think critically and creatively about the things I wanted to achieve in my life. These things shaped my decision to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship. After graduation I decided to create a business that delivers thoughtful data and technology solutions to our NGO clients, thereby helping amplify social change and making the world a better place.
Akili Dada: What have you been doing since you got back?
Sharon: I came back to Kenya and secured a Management Trainee position at Unilever East Africa where I worked briefly. In December 2014, my business partner and I created Uwazi Consulting. Uwazi is a technology and data consulting firm helping SMEs, NGOs, social enterprises and research institutions in Eastern Africa to incorporate technology into their growth strategy. This involves setting up systems to help them better manage their programs, track their impact and unlock business opportunities through insightful data. I am in charge of business development: building and managing a portfolio of existing clients, identifying new business opportunities, marketing and book keeping. I feel extremely lucky to be working on two things I deeply care about: technology and social justice. It is important for me to not only make a decent living from my job, but to also make a difference by helping NGOs deliver their programs in innovative and efficient ways.