Wawira Njiru, the founder of Food for Education, has been named among 112 top Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum. The 2021 Young Global Leaders list includes fellows from 56 countries, including 11 from Africa.
The selected young leaders are involved in a range of initiatives, including equality, inclusivity in medical research as well as access to affordable, safe and nutritious food.
Food for Education is a non-profit organization, supplies meals to public primary schools in Nairobi, Kiambu and Mombasa counties. The organization has supported at least 500,000 children using a central kitchen that distributes food to 25 schools in urban and per-urban areas of the three regions. Using data on need and latest technology, parents pay Ksh. 15 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 children the need to run home for lunch or eat unhealthy processed foods.
Ms. Njiru and 10 other Young Global Leaders from Africa will benefit from a fellowship supported by the Aliko Dangote Foundation.
Speaking on the listing, Ms. Njiru said the opportunity would help shed more light on the work Food for Education in delivering quality and nutritious meals to about 30,000 children daily.
“This recognition brings us closer to realizing our goal of reaching 1,000,000 schoolchildren a day with nutritious meals and advocacy to ensure that none has to learn while hungry. It highlights the need to continue feeding the future of Africa,” she said.
The average number of children supported by the program so far is 33,000. Ms. Njiru says the meals are sourced locally.
The Young Global Leaders program includes executive education courses, expeditions and opportunities to collaborate and test ideas among a trusted network of peers.
Ms. Mariah Levin, Head of the Forum’s Young Global Leaders said the new group includes thoughtful and courageous leaders who will shape a more sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic era.
Ms. Njiru is a Ford Foundation Global Fellow, recipient of the University of South Australia’s alumni award 2017 and was also granted the 2018 Rainer Arnhold Fellow.
She has won the Builders of Africa Award 2018 and the Global Citizen Youth Leadership Prize in 2018 by tech systems firm Cisco.