Our History

The Zawadi Africa Education Fund was founded in 2002 by Dr Susan Mboya, and is based on the highly successful Kennedy-Mboya Africa Student Airlifts Program

Zawadi Africa Education Fund is a leadership development program that provides university scholarships and leadership development and life skills training to academically gifted but financially disadvantaged African girls, with the objective of developing a pipeline of young African women leaders.

Zawadi Africa was formed with the belief that together with a world class education and the right character development, these young African women will be able to return to their home countries empowered and equipped with the skills needed to make significant, positive impact in their communities in a continent where traditionally women have not had a voice in the development of their community.

The Zawadi Africa Education Fund was founded in 2002 by Dr Susan Mboya, and is based on the highly successful Kennedy-Mboya Africa Student Airlifts Program of the 1960’s, pioneered by Tom Mboya, (Dr. Mboya’ s father), and President John F. Kennedy.

The Kennedy/Mboya airlifts educated over 1000 bright young East Africans who went on to become Africa’s post-independence leaders. They include, among their alumni, the late Professor Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate), and Barack Obama Sr., Father of President Barack Obama. Zawadi Africa Education Fund is a 501 (c) 3 registered in the US.

Our Vision

To empower African women to participate in the development of the continent through education and self determination.

Our Mission

We will actively shape the future of the continent through the gift of quality education and empowerment of Africa women to become global leaders and role models who inspire new generations.

core values


We believe in growing leaders. We seek to inspire others and are quick to identify others potential. We provide opportunities for the African woman to grow her aspiration. We send them on journeys of self discovery by providing them with opportunity exposure to leadership excellence.

Self Determination

We identify gifted students and enable them to succeed in their own right.

We cultivate strength of character in our students and our staff while encouraging them to believe in themselves.

Responsibility and Accountability

We take personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. We follow up on our obligations. We hold ourselves accountable to our plans and outcomes. Our dependency with all parties involved; board members, staff, students, parents and partners is built around our willingness and ability to deliver on our obligations.

Giving back (each one, teach one)

We are a catalyst for accelerating the growth of women leaders. We do this by passing on what is given to us to other women. We believe in the power of the ‘Women Effect’. We demand from our graduates to pass on the knowledge gained to others and in return, they become better leaders.

Family spirit – The Zawadi Africa "Family" (dada kwa dada)

We are a family. Each student encounter is the beginning of a never-ending relationship. Our students are members of the wider network of Zawadi sisterhood. We support each other as a family.

Corporate Governance

The Board and staff are committed to proper stewardship of the organisation and are custodians of the resources provided to us by our partners. We are self governed and operate at the highest international ethical standards in everything we do. Our partners are also selected on the basis of high governance practices.

school partners

  • Augustana College (U.S)
  • Arizona State University, AZ
  • Arkansas Baptist College, AR
  • Asheshi University, Ghana
  • Benedict College (U.S)
  • Brown University, RI
  • Bryn Mawr College (U.S)
  • Cape Town University (South Africa)
  • Carthage College (U.S)
  •  College of Mt. St. Joseph, OH
  • Concordia College, MN
  • Chapman College, CA
  • Columbia University (U.S)
  • Dordt College (U.S)
  • Duke University, NC
  • Fairleigh Dickinson Uni. , NJ
  • Harvard University (U.S)
  • Hamilton University, NY
  • Hillsdale College, MI
  • Hobart & William Smith College, NY
  • Harvey Mudd College (U.S)
  • Hofstra University (U.S)
  • Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya)
  • Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana
  • Lakeland College (U.S)
  • Makerere University (Uganda)
  • Meredith College, NC
  • Michigan State University, MI
  • MIT, MA
  • Montana University, MT
  • McGill University (Canada)
  • Miami University, OH (U.S)
  • Mt. Holyoke College (U.S)
  • Northwestern University (U.S)
  • Oberlin Univerity, OH
  • Ohio State University, OH
  • Roanoke College (U.S)
  • Reed College, OR
  • Rochester University (U.S)
  • Rutgers University (U.S)
  • Simpson College (U.S)
  • Smith College (U.S)
  • Spelman College (U.S)
  • St. Lawrence University, NY
  • Syracuse University, NY
  • Thomas More College (U.S)
  • University of California, Berkeley (U.S)
  • University of Cincinnati (U.S)
  • University of Toronto, Canada
  • University of British Columbia, Canada
  • University of Cape Town, SA
  • University of Miami (U.S)
  • University of Pennsylvania (U.S)
  • United States International University (Kenya)
  • Vassar College (U.S)
  • Villanova University (U.S)
  • Whitman College (U.S)
  • Wellesley, MA
  • Westminster College, UT
  • Williams College, MA
  • Xavier University, OH
  • Yale University (U.S)

our advisory board

Zawadi has a distinguished advisory board consisting of experts in the US and Africa with experts in the US based education and on African education and the particular needs and issues of the continent.

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