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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: International, International Relief, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking Foundations

Mission: Akilah is a college that offers a unique model of market relevant education empowering graduates for success in careers and leadership roles. Akilah aims to build future generations of women leaders and professionals in east africa through the development of a network of campuses. Akilah will graduate 1,000 students by the year 2020.

Programs: Opened in 2010 in rwanda, akilah is an accredited college that offers diplomas in entrepreneurship, hospitality management, and information systems-the three highest-growth sectors of the east african economy. Akilah's market-relevant curriculum, developed in partnership with the private sector, transforms the lives of young women by empowering them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to find meaningful employment and to serve as leaders in their communities. From its initial program in hospitality management, akilah has expanded to include majors in entrepreneurship and information systems, the latter launching in 2013 with a commitment from the clinton global initiative. Growing from an inaugural class of 50 students, akilah has graduated 95 alumnae in two graduating classes and currently serves 355 students across two campuses in east africa. The second campus was opened in neighboring bujumbura, burundi in january 2014 with the help of a clinton global initiative commitment from the segal family foundation. Sixty-eight percent of akilah students are the first women in their families to attend college. Most enter timid and unsure of themselves, but graduate as determined, empowered, confident young women, ready to launch their careers and reinvest in their families and their country. Ninety percent of alumnae find jobs within six months of graduation, where they earn incomes that are five times more than the national average.

Community Stories

17 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had a wonderful experience working with the Akilah Institute. A friend of mine introduced me to this charity a few years ago as he knew one of the founders (Elizabeth Dearborn Davis) from high school. Right away I knew this was something I wanted to be involved with. Not only do I think it's extremely important to give young women across the globe, specifically in Africa, an education, but I also loved how I knew exactly where the funds from this charity were going and who was running it.

Last year I had the chance to meet two of the students who have benefited from Akilah. I think what amazed me most was their incredible strength. These girls grew up in genocide and now some of them are living next door to the people who murdered their families. The level of forgiveness is quite incredible, and made me truly realize how very special these young women are.

Lastly, Akilah focuses on teaching these young women about tourism, as this is the fastest growing sector in Rwanda. This education is one of the major tools that allows them to finally get out of poverty.

I can't say enough good things about this charity and look forward to working with it in the future.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I help by doing Graphic Design work for Project Akilah. I am a Graphic Designer by trade, but the volunteer work that I do for Akilah actually gives back to me - it makes my work feel worthwhile, as I can see and feel how my contribution adds to an organization that is helping to educate and empower so many young women. I have had the splendid opportunity to meet two of the young women attending the Akilah Institute for Women, and their spirit, strength, hope and determination is such a gift - has been such an inspiration to me.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked in the Tampa, Florida Akilah office as the Development Intern for the Fall of 2010. I worked with the Development Associate to plan and execute a nationwide fundraising tour spanning seven cities. With a matching donation, this "Metropolitan Safari" raised almost half a million dollars! The mission of Akilah is honorable and genuine as are the teachers, staff, executives, and co-founders behind the organization. I know I was helping to make a difference in the lives of young Rwandan women. I truly enjoyed my time at Akilah and I will be a supporter and donor for life.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After traveling to Rwanda in 2009, and witnessing firsthand the crucial role women play in the growth of this developing country, I was inspired to find an opportunity to work with an organization focused on improving the lives of Rwandan women through access to education and job skills. My experience with Akilah has been truly wonderful. After identifying a growing job sector (hospitality), Elizabeth and her team focused their efforts on providing girls with specific skills they can use to support themselves and their families, and contribute to one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. I served on a committee to host a fundraiser in New York City, which was part of the Metropolitan Safari tour they organized across the US this fall. Even though the Akilah team was not based here, they were extremely organized and communicated their goals to our committee effectively. The Akilah students who attended the event spoke eloquently about their experiences and were truly inspirational in their stories.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Akilah Institute is one of the most forward thinking vocational training schools for young women in Africa today. Their focus is for each young woman who graduates from Akilah to be eminently employable, thus raising the living standards of the graduates and their families and communities. Akilah also provides these young women with the tools to cope with emotional issues, as many were orphans from the Rwandan genocide, using meditation techniques and an openly expressive and nurturing environment. I have been delighted to participate in the creation and the support of Akilah Institute, as I feel that their educational and business model is sound and will produce results that are much needed.

Review from Guidestar

1 Marian O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Akilah Project is one of the most progressive non-profit organizations I have been blessed to be a part of in my college career. The drive of the Akilah organizers is much to be admired, and they consistently display true passion in all their fund-raising and awareness endeavors. Working along side this wonderful organization has given me the experience needed to one day create my own non-profit for where I am from, Nigeria. I still have a lot to learn, but I recognize that working with the Akilah women, has been the best place to start.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was able to organize a "lunch & learn" get-together for the women in my church and a local women's interfaith group, Bridge Builders. The young woman who founded the Akilah Institute and her two students were so impressive - intelligent, poised, articulate about the mission and so friendly. We were honored to be a host group and have the privilege of meeting these outstanding young women, who are literally changing the world for other women in a country that is still recovering from many wounds and scars. The Akilah Institute is doing work many of us wish we could do in person. Wonderful organization!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an absolutely wonderful experience working with Project Akilah. Being referred to the organization by a friend I had done charity work with in the past, I knew it would be an extremely fulfilling endeavor! However, I was not prepared to be as moved as I was at the event. Upon hearing the girls speak, and hearing their stories, and witnessing their dedication to bettering themselves and their country -- I was literally moved to tears!

It is a fabulous project - as women should feel empowered/be given opportunities everywhere -and I plan to help out Akilah in the future!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with an Akilhah fundraiser in Washington, DC. Not only is the Akilah staff motivated, but genuinely inversted in their work in Rwanda. It is inspiring to watch their work being built from scratch, and the direct impact they have had on the women they teach.

We were able to hear the stories of two women who graduated from the institute, and how their lives have been positively impacted from this opportunity. The fact that the NGO operates with such a small overhead and staff, and is still able to fulfill thier vision, speaks to the character, passion, and integrity of this group of women.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"Working in the field of international development, one of the greatest challenges is instituting projects that are not only viable in the short-term, but sustainable in the long-term. Akilah has managed to create a trajectory that accounts for the triple bottom line of environmental, social as well as financial sustainability, grown from and managed in a distinctly Rwandan context. Akilah's holistic approach on cultivating leaders and managers far surpasses most models which tend to focus on business development or access to finance alone. They are preparing a class of economic and social drivers, instead of mere aid-recipients. They are investing in long-term models for sustainable resource management and revenue-generation, instead of relying on extended donor support.

Tourism and hospitality are quickly emerging as core sectors in emerging economies around the globe, with a pronounced presence in oil-rich, post-conflict countries. Positive, localized and strategic options for developing these sectors in an equitable way will become critical in the next few years. The Akilah Institute for Women is well ahead of the curve in anticipating this momentum and has a long road of opportunity ahead."

Review from Guidestar