In 2001, 16 year old Ashley Shuyler founded AfricAid, following a life-changing trip to Tanzania five years earlier. During that trip, she met many children her age who did not have the opportunity to go to school. She learned that girls, in particular, face significant challenges in trying to obtain an education. Realizing that this leads to a cycle of poverty – and recognizing just how powerful girls’ education can be in changing the futures of individuals and communities – she established AfricAid to help transform the landscape of opportunity for young women in Tanzania.
In its early years, AfricAid focused on providing scholarships and direct support to Tanzanian schools. In 2010, AfricAid adopted a more strategic approach to girls’ education to more holistically address the structural barriers facing even the most academically accomplished young women. Our new approach reflected the belief that young women, in particular those who have achieved entrance to upper secondary school, have incredible potential to become future leaders and catalysts for change in their communities. These young women, however, need additional skills, knowledge and confidence to reach their potential. It was from this knowledge that AfricAid’s flagship program, the Kisa Project, was born.
Through extensive research on best practices and successful models throughout East Africa, the AfricAid team developed a leadership and life-skills training curriculum – the Kisa Curriculum – and identified a number of essential support programs and activities. AfricAid (Tanzania), a Tanzanian NGO, was registered in 2010 and took on the responsibility of implementing the Kisa Project.
The Kisa Project has proven to be exceptionally successful in building young women’s confidence, motivation and leadership skills. Kisa Scholars and Alumni are high achieving, driven, resilient, articulate leaders who share a passion for empowering girls in Tanzania and giving back to their communities. Through Kisa, young women are able to find their voice so they can make the changes that they envision for their own lives and their nation.
Over the years we’ve honed the Kisa Curriculum, built an exceptional mentoring program, and seen Kisa Scholars thrive far beyond secondary school. 98% of Kisa Scholars have gone on to further study, including university; several have been accepted into leadership training programs overseas. During this time the Kisa Project has expanded to over 20 secondary schools in Arusha and Kilimanjaro Regions in Tanzania and impacted thousands of young women. Due to the remarkable success of the Kisa Project, in 2016 AfricAid will begin the research and design phase on a sister project for vulnerable younger adolescent girls in lower secondary school called the Binti Shupavu Project.