Akili Dada Fellows

About the Akili Dada Fellowship Program

Akili Dada’s fellowship program grows out of our belief that African women, especially those from poor communities, are best positioned to design solutions to the challenges facing those communities. The  goal of the program is to build the capacity of some of the continent’s most innovative young women changemakers to drive solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing African society.

The Akili Dada Fellows program awards year-long fellowships to young women leaders engaged in social change projects of their design.  The program serves as an incubator providing financial, intellectual, mentoring, and networking resources to young women as they grow their projects to scale and sustainability.

These fellowships were created in direct response to the absence of African women among the ranks of those celebrated in existing social entrepreneurship incubators.

Fellowship selection is based on the strength of a candidate’s 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 intended beneficiaries.  Fellows must have deep roots in the communities they seek to transform and come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Selection is not necessarily based on past academic performance, as a strategic aim to invest even in those young women who have not previously had access to formal education.

Akili Dada Fellows benefit from a modest stipend to sustain themselves for the duration of the fellowship, a series of seminars from experts in the field and site visits to successful social change 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 fellowship the Fellow is expected to be leading a strong, sustainable and accountable initiative that is bringing about measurable social change.

If you would like additional information about the fellows’ social change projects, please contact Joyce@akilidada.org.

Meet the 2013 Akili Dada Fellows!

Pamellah Dio FellowPamellah Dio | Taita Taveta

Pamellah graduated from Moi University with a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management and conservation.  She is an environmental conservationist by profession, and has worked as a research assistant, field assistant and a volunteer in conservation work around Taita Taveta County. Currently, Pamellah works with Nature Kenya (the East Africa Natural history Society) as a site conservation officer in Taita Hills Forests.  Her work focuses on biodiversity monitoring, environmental education in schools, and community empowerment to participate in conservation work. She is a member of Youth for Conservation and the Undugu Mentorship Initiative. Pamellah finds inspiration in mentoring young people, field expeditions, writing articles, and community service.

Social Change Project: Pamellah is working to increase environmental education in Taita Taveta schools to address lack of awareness on environmental conservation, which has led to deforestation in Taita Hills. The deforestation has resulted in loss of water catchments, wetlands and endangerment of life. Project activities include education and awareness, clean-up events, exchange programs, and tree planting activities in institutions. Through her project, Pamellah hopes to transform her community to be more aware of environmental degradation and to contribute to environmental restoration, protection and conservation in the Taita Hills forests and its environs.

Ann Nyambura FellowAnn Nyambura | Nairobi

Ann just recently graduated from Our Lady of Fatima Secondary School, where she involved in various social change groups including International Climate Change and Health Club. A standout student and leader at Our Lady of Fatima, Ann was elected as environmental prefect in 2011/2012.  With a passion for social change and desire to make an impact, Ann became a volunteer at Groots Kenya in her home area of Mathare in 2010. In her three years with Groots, Ann underwent training on adolescent reproductive health and HIV/AIDS ,as well as entrepreneurship, financial literacy, life skills, and employability of young women in enterprise. Having being born and raised in an informal slum community, Ann believes that young women need opportunities to acquire both formal and non-formal education to actively cope with challenges  during adolescence. She believes this is the way to ensure that young women become economically empowered, breaking negative cycles of poverty, early marriage, and prostitution.

Social Change Project:  Ann’s social change project is to bring young women together through a project that creates alternative fuels for household use.  The briquette-making livelihood project in Mathare slum uses the enterprise as a platform to address the deeper social obstacles the young women face in their everyday lives.

Caroline Odera FellowCaroline Odera | Kisumu

Caroline has professional training in Business Administration with IT, and has over five years experience working with local communities around the Lake Victoria region on areas of water and sanitation, conservation education and public awareness, green energy and capacity building trainings on entrepreneurship among others.  She works as Volunteer Programme Manager at Ecofinder Kenya organization based in Kisumu. She  She is also an Alumni of Earth Corps, Seattle, WA, USA and Ferry Beach Ecology School, Maine, USA.

Social Change Project:   Caroline’s project promotes access to affordable, clean and safe energy to women within the rural and peri urban settlements of Kisumu District. Peri urban areas are mostly disadvantaged from many urban services which include modern energy. They mainly rely on traditional and unclean energy sources for cooking, lighting and even phone charging. This causes numerous problems, including respiratory diseases, fire hazards, lack of disposable income among women, and medical expenditures. Women and children are rendered the most vulnerable in such circumstances. The project therefore will seek to establish energy micro enterprises run by women and will provide trainings on entrepreneurship.  The project will also undertake a ‘Women Savings for a Change’ initiative to ensure ownership for rural women of clean and safe energy for lighting and cooking.

Maria Omare_FellowMaria Omare | Nairobi

Maria earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics from Kenyatta University, and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in the same field. Her research interest is in the nutritional management of developmental disabilities in children, with emphasis on autism and cerebral palsy.  A nutritionist by profession, Maria is a co-founder and the CEO of The Action Foundation, a Kenya-based NGO that seeks to improve the lives of children living with disabilities. She has volunteered in projects supporting persons with disabilities in Mathare and Kenyatta University since 2009. She is passionate about giving children with special needs opportunities to learn, play and develop their social and motor skills. She enjoys reading, writing poetry, cooking, singing and travelling.

Social Change Project: Maria’s project isbased in Mashimoni, at the heart of Kibera, an informal slum community in Nairobi.  The project provides nutritional care, special education and therapy to children living with disability in the slum. This includes children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism and Down’s syndrome.

The fundamental needs of children living with disability have largely been ignored by society as a result of deep-rooted social, cultural and religious stigma associated with disability. Lack of access to good nutrition, therapy and education has led to poor physical, mental and social health of children with special needs in low income and slum areas. Many are hidden, isolated and denied opportunities to engage in social and physical activities. Through this project, local volunteers from Kibera and parents will be trained in therapy and care for children with special needs in their community.

Grace Wanene FellowGrace Wanene | Kiambu

Grace Njeri Wanene holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Sciences and certificates in project management, monitoring and evaluation and gender studies among others. Grace has considerable experience in the communications sector, having worked as a freelance writer and communications Assistant for 3 years. Her passions include women and youth empowerment, food security and non-profit communications.

Social Change Project: Grace’s social change project, the Youth Agro-Environment Initiative, recently won the Google Innovation in Agriculture Award.  The Youth Agro-Environment Initiative is a community-based organization which Grace co-founded in 2011.  The initiative provides opportunities for youth in the agricultural sector in an attempt to tackle food insecurity and increasing rates of unemployment amongst youth in Kenya.