Success Story from Kenya: Collins Nakedi, Empowering Youths through Education

Collins Plimo Nakedi was born in October 1989 and raised in East Pokot, Kenya, a pastoralist community in which more than 95 percent of the people are illiterate. One of 14 children, Collins felt extremely fortunate to be the only one in his family to have the chance to go to school and get an education. He worked hard at Nginyang Primary School and was the top student in his entire district on his national exams. He graduated from Baringo High School in 2007 and in 2009 went on to study International Business Administration at the United States International University-Africa (USIU-A) a private institution of high learning based in Nairobi and a branch of a campus by the same name in San Diego, California. Mr. Nakedi graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree from USIU-A in 2013.

In July 2013, he co-founded Hifadhi Africa Organization (HAO), a non-governmental not-for-profit organization with Jovenal Nsengimana and Charles Mwakio. Their aim with HAO was to promote access to water, quality education, health care, and youth mentorship, particularly among underserved pastoralist and slum dweller communities. The inspiration for the growth of HAO came from Mr. Nakedi and Mr. Mwakio watching a film about the Lost Boys of Sudan and seeing leaders that were making a positive difference for people facing very difficult situations. They determined then to dedicate 60 percent of their time to HAO. Their time has been well spent.

To date HAO has installed e-learning systems in nine pastoral schools with no electricity or internet access. Each of the nine schools has received 31 solar-powered, low-cost Raspberry Pi tablet devices that create hotspots in disadvantaged communities and provide Khan Academy and other world-class content, including access to over 2,000 videos. HAO also has provided full scholarships to ten students to attend high school or university. HAO also installs plastic tanks and water catchment devices at schools as a means to reduce absenteeism. Nakoko Primary School, one of the beneficiaries of HAO, had its students sit for the national examinations for the first time in its 45 year history after a donation of text books and e-learning materials from HAO.

To earn experience and help HAO make even more of a difference in one of its three core areas, health, Mr. Nakedi used his concentration in Finance and Management at USIU-A to secure an unpaid internship as an Accountant in the Finance Department at the Coptic Mission Hospital in September 2013. He worked there for seven months until March 2014 when he felt that he was equipped to effectively lead HAO.

Mr. Nakedi has received several honors, awards, and recognitions for his humanitarian work. He was featured in Forbes Magazine in 2014, has received a certificate of recognition from the Rotary clubs of East Bremerton and Tacoma in the US, and he was featured in an article by Poulsbo North Kitsap Rotary Club. In June 2015 he began the prestigious and highly competitive Mandela Washington Fellowship for the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). The Mandela Washington Fellows is the flagship program of President Barack Obama’s Administration that empowers young Africans, 25 to 35 years of age, through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. Mr. Nakedi was also elected to be the Kenyan representative and chairman of the Eastern and Central African Regional Advisory Board for YALI.

As a Mandela Washington Fellow, Mr. Nakedi was one of 25 Fellows hosted by Arizona State University (ASU) for six weeks before receiving additional training in the form of a Professional Development Experience (PDE) at Microsoft. Only 100 of the 500 Mandela Washington Fellows were selected for a PDE in 2015. Mr. Nakedi completed his PDE on Sept., 18th 2015. He spent four weeks with Microsoft in Washington D.C (Innovation & Policy Center) and two weeks at the Redmond Campus in Washington State where he was exposed to the organization’s regional management and networks. He also visited the Seattle Headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and enrolled in their platform of over 300 project managers engaged in technology, education, water and health. Mr. Nakedi is the author of a 2015 memoir entitled Leap of Hope. In December 2015, Business Daily named Mr. Collins Nakedi one of Kenya’s Top 40 Under 40 for the year.

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Mr. Collins Nakedi been so successful in his undertakings?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Mr. Nakedi believes in HARD WORK and has a DEFINITE CHIEF AIM, namely to inspire youths to use their energy to engage in social entrepreneurship and make the most of technology.

Mr. Nakedi has ROLE MODELS. He has admired Bill Gates and sought to follow in his footsteps, bringing technology to people to improve their lives. He is an INSPIRATION to others from pastoralist backgrounds where formal education is often a challenge to obtain.

By Heidi G. Frontani



  1. Nick Rutto · · Reply

    Best wishes Mr.Nakedi the community is really proud of you


  2. Wow, inspiring story. Keep going, sir.


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