Nelly Cheboi is a Kenyan software engineer and the founder of TechLit Africa, a Kenyan company that repurposes technology in order to rebuild computer labs in African schools. Her background influenced the launch of her company.
Cheboi grew up in rural Kenya in poverty. She did not have access to computers, like many of her peers, but she eventually received a scholarship to study computer science at Augustana College in Illinois.
She worked in the software industry after finishing her course and discovered that companies simply throw away computers when they need to be updated. This prompted her to establish TechLit Africa in order to repurpose computers for rural Kenyan schools.
“I came up with this idea to build a school, and the idea for this school was mainly focused as being a source of income for the family,” she told POCIT.
“The kids would go to this school and pay about $10 a month, and that money is enough to keep the school running, pay for the teachers, pay for food by stationaries, whatever was leftover could support my family.”
According to VOA Africa, TechLit Africa currently serves ten schools and hopes to expand to 100 in the next year. Cheboi teaches her students computer skills such as coding. Remote learning is also an option for students.
“They can go from doing a remote class with NASA on education to music production,” Cheboi said. “My hope is that when the first TechLit kids graduate high school, they’re able to get a job online because they will know how to code, they will know how to do graphic design, they will know how to do marketing. The world is your oyster when you are educated.”
Cheboi was named CNN’s Hero of the Year for her charitable work. The 29-year-old beat out ten other nominees to win. She was awarded a $10,000 grant to assist her in expanding her work to more African schools. The grant will also help her recruit more students and local teachers.