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Kenyan food activist wins WEF fellowship



A Kenyan food activist famed for supplying affordable meals to kids has been granted a lucrative fellowship at the World Economic Forum, rewarding her efforts at helping children stay in school.

Ms Wawira Njiru, the founder of Food for Education was this week selected among 112 researchers, activists and tech enthusiasts for a programme known as the Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGL) run by the World Economic Forum.

Ms Njiru will be part of a class of 112 fellows, men and women all aged between 30 and 40 and involved in activities such as fighting for equality, inclusivity in medical research as well as access to affordable, safe and nutritious food.

On Friday, Ms Njiru told the Nation she was excited to join the programme, hoping it will elevate her cause to the world stage.

“Child hunger is a global issue affecting millions of children with so many going to school hungry here,” she said in an interview on Friday.

Food for Education

“This opportunity sheds a light on this important issue and the work Food for Education is doing using technology, smart logistics and operations to deliver quality, nutritious meals to over 30,000 school children a day.

“This recognition brings us closer to our goal to reach 1,000,000 school children a day with nutritious meals and advocate to ensure no child has to learn while hungry. It highlights the need to continue feeding the future of Africa.”

Food for Education, a non-profit organisation supplies healthy meals to public primary school children in Nairobi, Kiambu and Mombasa counties.

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Launched in 2012, it has supported at least 500,000 school children using a central kitchen that distributes food to 25 schools in urban and per-urban areas of the three counties.

Using data on need and latest technology, parents pay Sh15 through wristbands linked to mobile money payment service. Eligible pupils then wear the wristbands and ‘Tap2Eat’.

The transaction often lasts less than five seconds, saving the kids the need to run home for lunch or otherwise feed on unhealthy processed foods.

Aliko Dangote Fellowship

So far, the average number of children supported by the programme is 33,000 and Ms Njiru said the meals are all sourced locally.

The 2021 class she is part of includes fellows from 56 countries across the world, including 11 from Africa.

African fellows will benefit from the Aliko Dangote Fellowship, launched by Nigeria and Africa’s billionaire and philanthropist Aliko Dangote.

They will be part of training for five years undergoing coursework, expeditions and collaborating on some developmental ideas with a network of their peers, WEC said.

In Africa, WEC said the aim of the fellowship is “to increase the quality and quantity” of young African leaders by supporting their enterprises or non-profit ventures.

Ms Mariah Levin, the Head of the Forum of Young Global Leaders said the new class includes “thoughtful and courageous leaders who will shape a more sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic era.”

Ford Foundation Global Fellow

The Programme was founded in 2005 by Klaus Schwab, the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum “to create a world where leaders take responsibility for a sustainable future while meeting increasingly complex and interrelated challenges.”

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The programme has benefited some 1400 entrepreneurs, political leaders, researchers and campaigners across the world including Kenya’s famous filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu.

Ms Wawira’s selection adds to her other accolades, having been ranked among the 2018 Top40 Under 40 Women in 2018, a project run by the Business Daily.

Ms Wawira, a Ford Foundation Global Fellow, was the youngest recipient of the University of South Australia’s alumni award 2017 and was also granted the 2018 Rainer Arnhold Fellow.

She has also won the Builders of Africa Award 2018 and the Global Citizen Youth Leadership Prize in 2018 by tech systems firm Cisco.

By nation

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