2014 was our biggest year yet: we’ve marked 5 years of educating and empowering women.


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In East Africa, there is a profound gap between the education system and the human capital needs of the new booming private sector. Businesses complain regularly of a poorly trained and inadequate workforce, and yet 85% of women still work in subsistence agriculture, living on less than $2 per day. Only 1% of the population enters university, and less than one-third of those students are female.

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Clearly, there is a disconnect between what employers want and what the education system supplies.

Akilah acts as the bridge connecting underemployed, high-potential young women to jobs in the fastest-growing sectors of the economy.

Educating young women is simply the wisest and most effective investment a developing country can make:

Women will invest 90% of their income into their families, as opposed to 30-40% for men.

Educated women are less likely to contract HIV, and will also earn more money and have fewer and healthier children.

Therefore, Akilah’s recruitment efforts are focused on low-moderate income, high potential communities and students who do not have the resources to pursue higher education within the traditional university system.


The Akilah educational model focuses on building private-sector partnerships and developing curricula hand-in-hand with business leaders and market-relevant sectors of the economy.

The unique Akilah model emphasizes experiential learning, leadership development, and entrepreneurial skills, challenging the existing norms of rote learning and limited career advancement. Akilah works closely with the local private sector to develop market-relevant curricula and to ensure job placement for graduates.


All students are enrolled in a longer school year, complete leadership and ethics courses, and pursue intensive community service and internship programs.

Read more about Akilah’s academic model.


  • 68% of our students are the first women in their family to graduate college.
  • 67% of our students come from rural areas in Rwanda
  • 66% of students have lost one or more parents
  • Akilah students earn incomes that are, on average, 5x higher than the national average.
  • 1/3 of Akilah students are heads of their households.
  • The first two classes of Akilah students graduated with an average 90% job placement.
  • In 2013, Akilah received 1500 applications for 150 spots.

Akilah works with private-sector partners every step of the way to design curricula that make sense in the current job market. Our internship requirements, career counseling, and courses in leadership and ethics mirror the curricula at top business schools, providing skills necessary for management positions. When Akilah students graduate, they are already in high demand.

Akilah Institute student at the mic

Happy graduate at Akilah Institute for Women in Africa