The Kisa Project for Girl's Empowerment

The Kisa Project for Girl's Empowerment

Denver 80202, United StatesArusha, Tanzania
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

AfricAid/The Kisa Project ( helps to further the achievement of several important educational objectives established by the Tanzanian government.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Tanzania has one of the lowest secondary school graduation rates for girls in the world with only 5% of Tanzanian girls graduating from high school. AfricAid is working to improve this statistic through the Kisa Project in order to develop future female leaders for Tanzania, thus advancing the status of women in this country. Pervasive causes of the problems include deeply-rooted cultural/societal beliefs that women are not as “valuable” or as “worthy” as men. Overall educational challenges for Tanzanian women include: lack of money for school fees, unsafe conditions to and from school and even in the classroom, gender privacy concerns, and cultural norms that encourage girls to remain in the private, domestic sphere, rather than pursuing education and employment in the public arena.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Ashley Shuyler founded AfricAid in 2001 with a mission of supporting girls’ education in Africa in order to provide young women with the opportunity to transform their lives, their families and their communities. Since its inception, AfricAid has impacted the lives of over 40,000 young Tanzanians by conducting leadership development programs, providing scholarships, coordinating teacher training programs, building classrooms, installing computer labs in partnering schools and supporting a school lunch program. Through Kisa, we provide Tanzanian women with options for independent, rewarding lives by supplementing their studies during the last 2 years of secondary school to create well-informed, employable female leaders who will uplift the next generation of girls in Tanzania. We collaborate with officials in Dar es Salaam and the Ministry of Education to run Kisa. AfricAid's solution is to help create independent young women, thereby ending the poverty cycle in East Africa.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Kisa Project is primarily focused on adolescent Tanzanian girls (ages 15 to 18) at the secondary level, but also serves young women, ages 18 to 34. We currently partner with nine schools in Arusha to offer Kisa. In addition to their regular school hours, Kisa Scholars participate in the special Kisa curriculum once a week for two hours of weekly leadership training through Kisa Mentors (successful, educated Tanzanian female role models) who teach curriculum units in life skills, including HIV/AIDS awareness, personal leadership, entrepreneurship, budgeting and project management. Kisa also offers computer access and training in low-cost computer labs installed by AfricAid in all partner schools. At the end of the 2-year program, Kisa Scholars return home upon graduation and conduct life skills/ leadership mentoring for at least 15 to 20 other girls from their own communities, using the most salient lessons learned from Kisa. Our scholars have been accepted to leadership training programs around the world, have started their own initiatives, and are now mothers to the next generation of educated girls. As a result of AfricAid’s work, hundreds of young women have become teachers, nurses and doctors. Over the next five years, AfricAid projects the program will provide mentorship to over 15,000 young girls and establish partnerships with over 1,400 individuals, families, organizations and school groups in the United States and Canada to sponsor the Kisa Scholars and build relationships with them through online communication and story sharing.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

In developing our curriculum for Kisa, we collaborated with Educate! (a non-profit in Boulder, CO that runs a similar program in Uganda) and with the Peace Corps. In a sense, Educate! and the Peace Corps are both our peers and competitors, as well as mentors. Edge of Seven is a similar program in Nepal and Starfish One by One is another similar program in Guatamala. However, the Kisa Project is different and innovative in that it is the only program of its kind in East Africa today. Many programs address individual parts within Kisa, but Kisa is unique in how comprehensive and holistic it is at addressing deeply-rooted cultural and social prejudices against women and helping them live fulfilling, successful lives, thereby ending the poverty cycle in East Africa.

Founding Story

At the age of 11, Ashley Shuyler, AfricAid’s founder, traveled to Tanzania with her family in 1996, and was overwhelmed by the poverty she saw while there, particularly among children her own age. When she learned that 95% of girls in Tanzania are unable to complete a high school education—primarily because they cannot afford the school fees, and because parents do not value their daughters being educated as much as their sons—she became determined to do something to help. As a result, Ashley founded AfricAid in 2001 (when she was just 16) as a non-profit organization with a mission of supporting girls’ education in Africa in order to provide young women with the opportunity to transform their lives and the futures of their communities. She faced skepticism about her long-term commitment to the effort because of her youth. However, Ashley persevered, raising over $1.3 million for AfricAid’s programs and services, establishing two boards of directors and launching Kisa in 2010.
About You
AfricAid, Inc.
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

AfricAid, Inc.

Organization Country

, CO, Denver 80202, Denver County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, AR, Arusha

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

Founder Ashley Shuyler has received the following awards:
Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes (2001); Young Americans Center for Financial Education Young Entrepreneurs Award (2002); Prudential Spirit of Community Award – National Top Ten Volunteer (2003); etown e-achievement Award (2006); Do Something Brick Awards Finalist (2007); Elected to Phi Beta Kappa – Harvard University (2008); Diploma Recipient at the Moscow International Visual Anthropology Film Festival (2008); Denver Business Journal's "40 Under 40" Award (2011). Our Teaching In Action (TIA) program was recognized in 2009 as one of three recipients of the prestigious Ashoka Changemakers Champions of Quality Education in Africa award, co-sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to education/training, Access to economic opportunity, Policy change/advocacy.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Our Kisa Project is now in its third year, and has more than doubled its program budget since the project’s inception in 2010. Initially, the Kisa Project served 20 girls, who graduated in 2012. In 2011, the program expanded to include 66 new girls, who will graduate in 2013. And we have added 132 new girls in 2012. Currently, Kisa is partnered with nine schools in Arusha, and we presently have 218 Kisa Scholars, who will mentor groups of 15 to 20 other girls from their home communities, thereby reaching a projected total of 3,270 to 4,360 additional girls. Impact of the Kisa Project includes: (1) Within four months of the Kisa Project’s launch, Kisa Scholars started their own small-scale social business to teach computer skills to women and students; (2) A Kisa Scholar was one of only five women selected to participate in a U.S. State Department-sponsored leadership training program in the USA; (3) AfricAid has installed five low cost computer labs serving over 3,000 students.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

AfricAid’s long-term goal is to expand the Kisa model across Tanzania and East Africa by 2015 so the program has the capacity to serve a total of 1,000 teenage girls at any given time, with 500 new girls entering the program each year. AfricAid projects the program will eventually reach over 15,000 young girls via our Kisa Scholars mentoring 15 to 20 girls each within their home communities. AfricAid plans to install an additional 29 computer labs by 2014, and expand Kisa into a total of 32 schools, thereby increasing the number of girls graduating from secondary school and entering university and the workforce. Since AfricAid views the program as “an investment in their lives,” we provide our graduates with a stipend to teach Kisa lessons to other girls, creating a ripple effect.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

We do not anticipate any barriers to the success of the project other than the challenge of continuing to obtain increased foundation and corporate funding. We are submitting foundation and corporate grants, while growing and cultivating our individual support base. AfricAid operates the Kisa Project with the support of the Ministry of Education and, one of our Tanzanian board members is the Honorable Dr. Augustine Mahiga, the former Tanzanian Ambassador to the United Nations. The Kisa Project helps to further the achievement of several important objectives established by the Tanzanian government. Among its educational goals, the Tanzania Ministry of Education has established the expansion and improvement of girls’ education, especially at the A level,as one of its principal objectives.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

To partner with an additional 16 schools in 2013, add 240 new girls to Kisa, and install computer labs in those schools.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Develop partnerships with an additional 16 schools by 2013 to achieve a total of 25 schools.

Task 2

Identify an additional 240 new girls to join Kisa./Kisa Scholars will demonstrate educational progress via tracking surveys.

Task 3

Install computer labs in those 16 schools for the benefit of our Kisa scholars and all students.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

To partner with an additional 6 schools in 2014 to achieve a total of 32 schools, add 480 new girls and add computer labs.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Develop partnerships with an additional 7 schools by 2014 to achieve a total of 32 schools.

Task 2

Identify an additional 480 new girls to join Kisa./Kisa Scholars will demonstrate educational progress via tracking surveys.

Task 3

Install computer labs in those 7 schools for the benefit of our Kisa scholars and all students.

Tell us about your partnerships

AfricAid’s US office provides financial support for the Kisa Project, while our Tanzanian office implements the program in collaboration with 9 schools and the Tanzanian Ministry of Education. Schools include: Arusha Secondary School; Moringe Sokoine Secondary; Enaboishu Secondary; Edmund Rice Secondary School; Maasai Girls’ Lutheran Secondary School; Engutoto Secondary School; Orkeeswa Secondary School; Makumira Secondary School; Cornerstone Leadership Academy. We partner with She’s the First to help raise funds for Kisa, and with Opportunity Tanzania to provide microloans to Kisa graduates.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

As part of our strategic plan, AfricAid wants to enhance our brand, strengthen our programmatic message, enhance our website and its capabilities and expand individual support. Strategic messaging and online and electronic tools are essential for communicating more efficiently with individual donors, building upon existing support, and securing increased financial contributions via our website.