TechLit Africa founder Nelly Cheboi has been named CNN’s Hero of the Year for 2022. The non-profit organization provides students in rural Kenya with access to donated, upcycled computers. Cheboi was chosen by online voters from a pool of ten other heroes at an event held at the American Museum of Natural History on December 11th, 2022.
As the Hero of the Year, Cheboi will receive $100,000 to expand TechLit Africa’s work, as well as a $10,000 cash award and additional grants and support from The Elevate Prize Foundation. Cheboi will also receive a $300,000 grant and $200,000 in additional support for her non-profit organization. These funds will help TechLit Africa continue its mission of bringing technology and education to rural areas of Kenya.
TechLit Africa currently serves 4,000 students from 10 schools in rural Kenya, with plans to expand to 100 schools and reach an additional 40,000 students. Cheboi, who grew up in poverty in the rural township of Mogotio, received a full scholarship to study computer science in Illinois and later worked in the software industry. She and a fellow software engineer quit their jobs in America to start TechLit Africa in Kenya in 2019.
Cheboi’s work with TechLit Africa has been recognized for its potential to make a significant impact on the lives of young people in Kenya. Through the use of donated, upcycled computers, TechLit Africa is able to provide students with access to technology and education that they may not otherwise have. In turn, these students will be better equipped to pursue higher education and career opportunities, helping to break the cycle of poverty in their communities.
Cheboi hopes that when TechLit’s first students graduate high school, they will be able to find work online due to their knowledge of coding, graphic design, and marketing. “The world is your oyster when you are educated,” Cheboi said. “By bringing the resources, by bringing these skills, we are opening up the world to them.”