Joyce Banda, Africa’s second female president and long-time champion of women and girl’s education, will bring her wide-ranging experience in public life, business, and advocacy to the Akilah Institute, Rwanda’s only college for women.
The Akilah Institute announced that former Malawi President Joyce Banda will join the college as Honorary Chancellor. Banda brings extensive experience in leadership and women’s empowerment to the Akilah Institute at an important time, as Akilah scales its proven model across sub-Saharan Africa via a network of new campuses.
“Akilah is thrilled to welcome Dr. Banda as our Honorary Chancellor,” said Akilah President Karen Sherman. “Given her staunch commitment to education and her extensive track record in women’s advocacy, the partnership is a very natural one. Dr. Banda’s personal mission to empower women aligns with Akilah’s own vision to educate the next generation of women leaders in Africa. She will be a key thought partner as we execute our plans for scale, including opening seven new campuses to serve a collective 53,000 women across Africa.”
Banda and Sherman formalized the partnership today with a meeting in Virginia. “As a former president, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Dr. Banda exemplifies the values we seek to instill in our students,” Ms. Sherman said following the meeting. “Leadership, community service, professionalism, and career growth are pillars of the Akilah curriculum. Dr. Banda embodies all of them. Dr. Banda is a role model not only for our students and women in sub-Saharan Africa but also for women around the world.”
For Banda, the appointment offers an opportunity to build on her extensive track record in advocacy for women. “I am tirelessly researching, documenting, and raising my voice for the education of the African girl-child and the empowerment of women,” Banda wrote in her acceptance of the appointment. “You can therefore count on my commitment in the task before me.”
“Governments, academic institutions, and the private sector must actively work together to remove barriers facing women so that they can attain positions of leadership,” Banda said. “Akilah offers an important success story in this regard. By selecting promising young women, providing them with intensive leadership training, and partnering with the private sector to prepare them for careers in Africa’s fastest-growing industries, Akilah has pioneered a new and effective method for women’s education,” she said.
Banda will bring her decades of experience in government, advocacy, business, and philanthropy to Akilah’s executive team. She will play a strategic role in the Akilah Institute’s growth plans and will provide advisory support as the institute identifies new campus locations, diploma programs, and education products to better serve women across Africa.
About the Akilah Institute: As the only women’s college in Rwanda, the Akilah Institute provides market-relevant education programs using a competency-based learning model. Opened in 2010, Akilah offers diplomas in Hospitality Management, Entrepreneurship & Business Management, Information Systems, and more and prepares graduates for meaningful careers and leadership roles. Akilah’s unique focus on ethical leadership skills, public speaking, and community service equips students with the lifelong knowledge required for personal and professional growth. By 2031, Akilah will serve 53,000 woman across an international network of eight campuses.
About Former President Joyce Banda: Joyce Banda was the president of the Republic of Malawi from 2012 to 2014. She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. She is also an entrepreneur, activist, politician, and philanthropist. In 1997, she received the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, alongside the President of Mozambique, and used the prize money to launch the Joyce Banda Foundation International, which has started three schools and provided an education to more than 3,500 girls. Banda was instrumental in the formation of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs, the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa, and the American & African Business Women’s Alliance. Forbes Magazine recognized her as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Banda holds an M.A. in leadership from the Royal Rhodes University of Canada, a B.S. in gender studies from Atlantic International University (U.S.), and a diploma in NGO management from the International Labor Organization Center in Turin, Italy. Jeonju University of South Korea conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Economics on Banda in January 2013, and Wheelock College conferred an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Education on her in May 2015.
- Akilah President Karen Sherman with former Malawi President Joyce Banda.