The Akilah Institute is a college for women in East Africa offering a unique model of market-relevant education that enables young women to achieve economic independence and obtain leadership roles in the workplace and in society.



Information Systems

Hospitality Management



The Akilah curriculum is developed in close partnership with the local private sector. Students graduate with the market-relevant skills required for meaningful employment in the fastest growing sectors of the economy and to launch their own ventures.

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Akilah provides a bridge between the education system and the employment opportunities in East Africa’s quickly growing private sector.



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.


2010: The first campus opens in January in Kigali, Rwanda.

2011: Akilah Rwanda accepts its second intake of students and former World Bank President Robert Zoellick hosts a fundraiser for the Institute in DC.

2012: The first class of Akilah students graduates with 100% job placement and Akilah launches a new Diploma in Entrepreneurship.

2013: The second class of Akilah students graduates with 80% job placement and Akilah launches a new Diploma in Information Systems.

2014: Students begin classes on the Burundi campus, nurseries open on both campuses to support student mothers, and Akilah is awarded the WeTech grant to help close the gender gap in computer science.


“Our students undergo a visible transformation during their three years on campus. Many students come from rural areas of Rwanda and Burundi. And during their time at Akilah, their knowledge and self-esteem grow and they graduate as determined, empowered, confident professionals. They’re ready to launch their careers, take control of their own lives, and impact their families and their country.”

– Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, CEO & Co-founder