The Akilah Institute for Women (Akilah), situated in Kibagabaga-Kigali, started in 2010 as a non-profit organisation offering a market relevant diploma course in Hospitality Management. Since then, it has grown significantly in size and scope and now also offers competitive Entrepreneurship and Information Systems diploma programmes.
Initially registered as an International Non-Government Organisation (INGO) under the name Project Akilah, the Institute is now shifting to a private college registered under the Rwanda Development Board business umbrella to reduce its dependency on donor funding. This change reflects the organisation’s accountability mindset, which it has been coupling with a results-oriented approach to empower talented young East African women.
Since its inception, the institute has made steady progress and charted a practical, but ambitious course for growth. Current student enrolment stands at 355 up from 50 in 2010. Historically, donor aid has facilitated its operations and growth, and enabled financially challenged students to receive significant scholarships towards tuition costs. The recent decision to shift from an INGO to a private college was taken by the Board of Directors in order to make the institute more competitive and self-sustaining for the future. Sustainability is a key strategic priority of the organisation.
Akilah targets young ladies who excel in the Advanced level examinations and have great leadership potential. Its mission is to empower young women for personal and professional success by equipping them with market relevant skills carefully delivered via tailor-made curricula. This results-oriented approach prepares young women for career opportunities and leadership roles in Rwanda, and the East African Communitywrit large. Akilah’s rigorous programmes marry the necessary workforce skills with other hotly demanded soft skills, including: English language, leadership, IT and problem-solving skills. Local employers attest to Akilah’s track record of success in generating a competent pipeline of women for the ever-growing Rwandan economy. The recipe is simple and necessary: engage employers as partners on the front-end of the education spectrum, and pepper-in their counsel and expertise throughout the curriculum and programme development process. This trusted collaboration yields many internship and job opportunities for dedicated students and successful graduates.
Among some of the recent institute’s successes is the Akilah debate club winning the 2015 inter-university debate this June, conducted from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology. Also this June, Anne Marie Izampoza, a member of the Entrepreneurship club, won an award in the Emerging Leaders and Entrepreneurs Award-Rwanda. She received the “Boost Me Award’’ for her business idea of solar lamps to respond to rural energy needs. The prize included a full year of free workspace in Kigali, business development services, as well as seed funding for her business.
The institute is currently preparing for its third graduation ceremony scheduled to take place on 7th August, 2015 at its Kigali campus in Kibagabaga. The public is welcome to join.
The writer is the Country Director of the Akilah Institute for Women