Innovation in Leadership Program
Innovation in Leadership
The Innovation in Leadership program was officially launched in January 2013. The program was informed by an evaluation of the organization’s strategic/comparative advantage and a growing need to strengthen the infrastructure supporting leadership development among our current beneficiaries. The program uses the strategies that have led to the success of its high school program i.e. financial investment, provision of mentoring opportunities and creation of skills/leadership development forums.
The program continues to engage with our high school alumnae and is currently
working with 5 fellows who are members of the fellowship program- which seeks
to incubate young women’s social change projects to scale and sustainability. In
addition, the innovation in leadership program is presently involved with young
women in university campuses as well as young professionals at the launch
of their careers.
The Akili Dada Alumnae Network:
As an integral part of our leadership program, the Akili Dada alumnae network represents a continuation of our investment in the young women we support beyond their high school years. The organization has 26 alumnae who through the Akili Dada Alumnae Network, are being supported through internships and regular events to enhance their leadership skills. These include:
Alumnae Internship Program
Akili Dada provides paid internships at Akili Dada to outstanding scholars from the high school program. On a competitive basis, we offer support for our high school alumnae in the gap period between high school and university by providing stipends for internships in our Nairobi office and within partner organizations. A key benefit is to provide our alumnae with valuable professional work experience not usually available to girls from poor families. The internships are providing these young women with opportunities to develop professional networking and important office skills, which help build their resumes and give them a head start in the formal employment marketplace.
100% of all Akili Dada high school recipients have earned full scholarships to universities in Kenya and around the world. As part of our continued engagement with alumnae Akili Dada provides the space, intellectual capital, and financial resources allowing these emerging young women leaders to undertake the extensive university application process and fully explore their global options without imposing a financial burden on their families. As part of this engagement we deepen our relationships with top universities around the world willing to offer full scholarships to our alumnae.
Alumnae Networking Events
Akili Dada continues to invest in our alumnae through regular events and opportunities to connect and share life stories and strategies, an active online social media community including on Facebook and Twitter. Our high school alumnae have the opportunity to attend larger Akili Dada community events including our annual conference, leadership academies, and mentors’ networking receptions. We constantly engage and receive feedback from the young women at monthly networking sessions and via e-communication.
The Akili Dada Fellowship:
The Akili Dada Fellowship program was launched in January 2013 and was birthed out of our belief that African women from poor backgrounds are best positioned to design and implement solutions to the challenges faced by their communities. These one-year fellowships (renewable for up to 3 years) will be awarded to young women leaders between the ages of 17-35 who are driving transformative change in their communities and looking to grow their projects to scale and sustainability. Modeled on opportunities offered by social entrepreneurship incubators like Echoing Green, Draper Richards Kaplan, Ashoka and others, the Akili Dada Fellowship intends to increase the number of African women in social entrepreneurship.
Currently, 5 fellows were selected through a competitive process on the basis of the strength of their social change project, previous leadership initiative and experience, willingness to learn from peers and more experienced mentors, and a willingness to share their own skills with peers and their intended beneficiaries. In order to reach out to young women who may not have had access to formal education, selection was not based on past academic performance. All fellows have deep roots in the communities they seek to transform and come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Akili Dada fellows receive a modest stipend for the duration of the fellowship, a series of seminars from experts in the field and site visits to successful social entrepreneurship organizations, an assigned mentor, access to the Akili Dada network of funding partners and social change agents, and access to Akili Dada’s office facilities. By the completion of the program the fellows are expected to have the skills and resources required to lead a strong, healthy, sustainable and accountable organization that is bringing about measureable social change.
Leadership Forums for University Students and Women in Corporate Organizations:
Social media is now considered a key forum for engagement for university students across Africa. However, the use of social media by young women in universities as a platform to discuss leadership development is limited. Akili Dada is leveraging its expertise as a leadership incubator and strong social media presence to convene a series of in-person and online events to reach out to young women in universities across. The events are spaces to discuss opportunities and skills relevant for the young women’s development as Africa’s future leaders.
Akili Dada’s increased engagement with women in corporate entities has led to the realization that there are few networking/information exchange opportunities amongst women working in corporate circles on career development and leadership in the workplace. Where organizations are willing to engage as described above, they lack the human resource capacity to do so. To this end, Akili Dada is putting together a series of forums aimed at African women in corporate settings. These forums provide women the space to network and exchange ideas on personal growth, career development and leadership in the workplace as well as in the larger community. These forums also provide us an opportunity to recruit and enrich our mentor pool for Akili Dada’s High School Leadership Development Program.