When Yale alumnus Eddy Gicheru Oketch was growing up in rural Kenya, he witnessed the tribal violence that erupted in his country following disputed elections.

He observed that low-income youth were especially likely to be drawn into the chaos. That’s when he came up with his big idea: economic empowerment will bring peace.

In response, Gicheru Oketch founded Peace for Africa and Economic Development (PAD), which began as a tiny organization with just three volunteers. That was in 2008, when Gicheru Oketch was still in high school.

Eight years later, the nonprofit organization has grown to 11 full-time staff members plus an advisory board, supported by a range of individual donors, corporations and family foundations. Now called Ongoza (a Swahili word meaning “lead”), the Nairobi-based organization offers customized business development training and access to zero-percent or low interest financing to fledgling businesses.

A 2016 graduate of Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs master’s program in global affairs, Gicheru Oketch worked remotely for his nonprofit throughout his undergraduate and graduate studies.

“Jackson has helped me bridge the gap between the global and the grassroots,” said Gicheru Oketch.

The Jackson Institute is hoping to attract more students like Gicheru Oketch. It recently announced two new full fellowships for incoming M.A. students:

  • Peel Fellowship Fund: Awarded to an incoming student(s) who are residents of countries within Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Chang Fellowship: Awarded to an incoming student(s) with preference given to residents of countries within Africa or students who have shown a demonstrated interest in Africa
    To help get the word out about the new fellowships, the Jackson Institute recently hosted an information session in Nairobi. The institute also hosted a reception Nov. 8 featuring Yale alumnus, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, ’93, PhD Economics; Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya. See photos from the event

The Jackson Institute’s M.A. program, small by design, enrolls about 25-students per year, nearly half of whom come from countries outside the U.S. Jackson’s mission is to inspire and prepare Yale students for global leadership and service.

Jackson’s efforts to recruit in Africa dovetail with the University’s broader work in the continent. The Yale Africa Initiative, a collaborative institutional effort launched in 2013 by Yale University president Peter Salovey, aims to sharpen Yale’s focus on Africa. Its goals are to expand scholarship on Africa at Yale; to increase the number of African students at Yale while securing support for financial aid for their studies; to establish mutually beneficial partnerships between Yale and African institutions. The faculty, students and alumni of Yale University are working closely together to realize the goals of this initiative. Click here for more information about the Yale Africa Initiative.