Our Entrepreneurs

Akilah Institute for Women

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes

A few days after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 2006, Elizabeth moved to Rwanda to volunteer with grassroots education projects. In 2008, she co-founded the Akilah Institute with her husband, Dave Hughes. Elizabeth was named one of “The 5 Most Powerful Women Changing The World With Social Entrepreneurship” by Forbes Magazine, and Newsweek recognized Elizabeth as one of the “125 Women of Impact.” Elizabeth’s passion is scaling personalized and affordable higher education in emerging markets. 

From Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes and Akilah Institute for Women

Pitch Video & Essay

The Akilah Institute is the only women's college in Rwanda. Akilah’s mission is to educate future leaders to solve the world’s most pressing challenges through a lens of opportunity and sustainability. 


Opened in 2010, Akilah offers accredited programs in Information Systems, Entrepreneurship, and Hospitality Management. Akilah graduates have a 90% job placement rate and earn more than 5x the national average. Akilah will launch in Uganda in 2019.

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