Looking back: The Swiss Study Foundation Academy in 2017

Posted on 06/30/2018 at 08:57PM

AiduTalent George Jilani studies medicine at the University of Nairobi after graduating high school in 2013 thanks to an Aiducation scholarship. He has already attended several Aiducation academies as both a student participant and coordinator. The Swiss Study Foundation Academy as a two-week summer school program, however, was a new highlight in his journey with Aiducation. Read his story here…

Written by George Jilani.

“Excitement boiled in my stomach as I sat by the window on the train travelling from Mombasa to Nairobi in the summer of 2017. Trees rushed quickly by me. I was nostalgic. After weeks and months of careful planning, the long awaited Summer School co-hosted by Aiducation International and The Swiss Study Foundation was to finally start in a few days. My job as a participant as well as the Kenyan host was to plan important logistics for students and speakers as relates to their transport, accommodation and welfare. I had worked for months with a dedicated team of student organizers from both Kenya and Switzerland to plan this first ever summer school of its kind. My heart almost skipped a beat with cheer. I felt like a proud father watching his son take his first terrified steps.

This Summer School brought together 30 students from Aiducation International in Kenya and 15 from The Swiss Study Foundation in Switzerland to discuss challenges facing urban mobility and renewable energy in our world. Inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we attempted to solve the most challenging questions on mobility and energy from a diverse and multidisciplinary point of view with a focus on the situation in Kenya. Students from diverse and inspired disciplines were highly motivated to be participants and experience the fusion of culture and ideology as they work towards a common goal; to solve real and actual problems that affect our world. This, for me, was more inspiring as it was truly exciting!

Annual Report 2017 soon to be released

Posted on 06/30/2018 at 08:51PM

The Aiducation Communications team has been hard at work to bring you our Annual Report 2017. AiduFriends, AiduPartneres and AiduMakers will receive a digital copy shortly. Have a look into the report and enjoy reading an advance publication of our highlights 2017.

171 scholarships were donated in 2017. Since Aiducation’s foundation in 2007,
a total of 1422 scholarships had been donated through the end of 2017.

The Liechtenstein-based Tarom foundation, which has continuously supported us since 2010, donated another 20’000 CHF in 2017. The funds will be invested into Economy Weeks in the Philippines and a position in the Pathways office.

More than 200 guests enjoyed the two Impact Dinners in Basel and Zürich. During these two events, funding for around 25 scholarship was secured.

Pathways Philippines organized multiple important events with several hundred participants. Those events included the start of a four-week long summer training program (called “ANI”) for new AiduFellows, preparatory meetings for the 2018 training programs (tutor trainings), a World Café in which 192 participants exchanged on the current political climate of the Philippines, and general assemblies for two Pathways parent groups.

12 Mentorship academies were successfully held in 2017 – that is a new record for Aiducation International – among them were several significant “first’s” and one amazing “second”:

  • The first Swiss Study Foundation Academy was held in Nairobi: 14 high-potential university students from the Swiss Study Foundation and 29 AiduAlumni met for a ten-day academy on Urban Energy & Mobility.
  • The EY Leadership Academy took place in Nairobi – for the first time, “leadership” was the major topic of an academy.
  • In December, for the very first time, we conducted a “*Swiss Re Entrepreneurship Academy*” for all of our 18 start-ups in our Start-up Fund. The academy provides a platform to exchange experiences and best-practices, to deepen knowledge on key concepts in entrepreneurship, and to focus on strategies for one’s start-up.
  • Three academies in a row: For the first time, Aiducation International Kenya successfully organized three academies in a row: the Swiss Re Start-Up Academy, the Swiss Re Corporate Career Academy, and the Swiss Re Entrepreneurship Academy from 20 Nov – 9 December.
  • At the second Swiss Re Corporate Career Academy, 13 industry partners in Kenya met 50 of our talents and conducted real internship interviews.

A new Alumni Network leadership team consisting of Adam Sikhundani (CEO), Mary Mwashigadi (Vice-CEO) and about 20 “governors” who help link batches of AiduAlumni to the network was sworn in at an amazing ceremony in Kenya. It was humbling to see how our AiduTalents have turned from poor high school students into achieving youth leaders.

Searching for a new Talent Raising site: From originally 120 potential partner organizations and a long list of 25, we selected six potential partners as short-listed organization for expansion into our third Talent Market.

2017: "A Year of Action. A Year of Academies"

Posted on 05/28/2018 at 09:07AM

By the end of 2017, we have realized a total of 41 academies. The first “general” academy took place in December 2009 and was the only one in that year, 2017 was a record-setting year with 12 academies under different themes and with the support of various sponsors. Reason enough to put our Annual Report 2017, which will be published shorty, under the theme “A Year of Action. A Year of Academies” Take a first glimpse into the report and enjoy reading an advance publication summary of our academies in 2017:

Realize Your Potential Academy
When & Where: 17 – 21 April 2017, Watamu, Kenya
Target Group: AiduTalents at the beginning of their scholarship
Sponsor: Lions Club Basel-Wenkenhof
Key topics: Introduction to Aiducation, Building a better Kenya, Academic excellence, Career guidance
Special about the academy: This is the “mother” of all of our academies, it helps onboard all AiduTalents who have recently received a scholarship and delivers the original idea of the “education to aid” concept.

BDO Financial Literacy Academy
When & Where: 3 – 7 April 2017, Watamu, Kenya
Target Group: AiduTalents at all stages of their scholarship
Sponsor: BDO AG, Zurich
Key topics: The Art of Budgeting, Profit & Loss, Budgeting & Planning, Case studies
Special about this academy: This Academy takes place every two years together with managers from BDO Kenya and BDO Switzerland.

What is Next Academy
When & Where: 22 – 23 April 2017, Watamu, Kenya
Target Group: AiduTalents at their end of their scholarship
Sponsor: FKM Management Consultants
Key topics: Job Search, job interviews, teambuilding, AiduLink and AiduTalent
Special about this academy: This short 2-days academy brings together AiduTalents who have recently graduated from high school to refresh contacts, exchange ideas, and plan the next steps in their professional development.

Four Swiss Re Start-up academies
When & Where: April, November and December in Watamu or Nairobi (Kenya) and in Manila (Philippines)
Target Group: AiduTalents interested in entrepreneurship
Sponsor: Swiss Re
Key Topics: Entepreneurship and Start-up Spirit
Special about this academy: Young, eager, and entrepreneurial AiduTalents, who received high school scholarships from Aiducation team up to turn their business ideas into start-up ventures ready to take off. Each team receives tailored support from an exceptional mixture of speakers and mentors comprised of Kenyan entrepreneurs and international Swiss Re staff.

Swiss Re Corporate Career Academy
When & Where: 27 Nov – 1 Dec 2017, Nairobi (Kenya)
Target Group: AiduTalents about to enter the job market
Key topics: Career Path, CV Writing, Interview Skills, Corporate Behaviour and Ethics
Sponsor: Swiss Re
Special about the academy: Entepreneurial AiduTalents who are about to enter the job market get a chance to analyse their own personality as well as the job market and receive one week of training before they meet Kenya’s top employers at a career fair.

Entrepreneurship Academy
When & Where: 4 – 8 Dec 2017, Nairobi (Kenya)
Target Group: AiduTalents with their own business who have successfully completed a Start-Up Academy and have received funding from the start-up fund.
Sponsor: Swiss Re
Key topics: Financial Management, effective marketing & sales strategy, business strategy, managing your workforce
Special about the academy: This annual academy targets only Entrepreneurs among our pool of AiduTalents who have received funding from Aiducation’s Start-Up Fund. During the week, entrepreneurs exchange their experiences, refresh and deepen some of the key entrepreneurship concepts from the Start-Up Academy, and deep-dive into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and strategies of their own business.

Synpulse Project Management Academy
When & Where: 28 May – 3 June 2017, Manila (Philippines)
Target Group: AiduTalents
Key topics: Presentation Skills, Internet Research, MS Office for Project Managers, Analysis and Planning, Decision Making
Sponsor: Synpulse
Special about the academy: This Academy takes place every two years together with Synpulse and so far is only in the Philippines.

Swiss Study Foundation Academy
When & Where: 3 – 17 July, 2017, Nairobi (Kenya)
Target Group: Swiss and Kenyan scholars
Sponsor: Swiss Study Foundation
Key topics: “Tackling Present Challenges in Energy and Mobility – The case of Kenya and Switzerland”
Special about this academy: Joint academy between the Swiss Study Foundation (15 Swiss students) and Aiducation International (30 Kenyan students).

1st Soft Skills/Leadership Academy, EY Switzerland
When & Where: 24 – 28 July 2017, Nairobi (Kenya)
Target Group: Kenyan scholars at all stages of their scholarship
Sponsor: EY Switzerland
Key topics: Public Speaking, Business Ethics, People Management, Project, Strategic, critical and out-of-the-box thinking, teamwork Self Branding & Social Media, Client Management, Effective Communication
Special about the academy: This was the first academy together with EY Switzerland and EY Kenya.

Interview with Peter Grewal on his experiences at the Swiss Re Startup Academy – Philippines December 2017

Posted on 03/16/2018 at 06:06PM

Interview: Andrew Vallejo-Sanderson

Peter Grewal, CRO Reinsurance, volunteered to be a mentor for Swiss Re Startup Academy. This interview will give you some of his insights and thoughts on his experience, startups, innovation, and how it can apply to business. He highly recommends that everyone apply to be a mentor because “it was one of the most rewarding weeks of my life.”

What is vision of the Swiss Re Startup Academy?

The Swiss Re Startup Academy is funded by the Swiss Re Foundation, organized by Reinsurance Finance, and facilitated by our partner Aiducation International (

During a one-week course high-potential students in Kenya and the Philippines gain skills to develop a comprehensive business plan and become successful entrepreneurs. During each academy, Swiss Re mentors volunteer to deliver lectures, workshops, and 1 to 1 mentoring sessions with students.


Posted on 03/16/2018 at 05:40PM

Interview: Cynthia Brauchli and Florian Kapitza

Collins journey into entrepreneurship started with an Aiducation scholarship that financed Collin’s high school education from 2009 onwards. Now, eight years later he has successfully launched Moshua General Suppliers, a local Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) specializing in graphic designing, printing, branding and general supplies just as the name suggests. In an interview, he tells us more about how everything started and what role Aiducation played in the success of his business.

How did you come up with your business idea?
Just after high school, I went out to a shop to get a writing pad and I found the owner making calls looking for someone who could create a logo and brand his business. I was reminded of a friend I had taken a bus with sometime back on my way to school who told me about branding and graphic design. I asked the guy to give me the job and luckily, he did and that was my light-bulb moment.

Was this a project you have always dreamt of launching?
When I turned eight my father got fired and my mother had just given birth to our last born. These were tough times for my family, but from that experience I promised myself to not subject myself to the mercies of an employer. I always dreamed of starting a business, but I didn’t have a clear vision until my light-bulb moment.

What role did Aiducation play in the success of your business?
I have found in Aiducation a true and trustworthy partner not just in business but also in carving the person that I am today. The numerous Academies I have attended were not only an eye opener but also fanned my entrepreneurial spark to be the flame that burns to even today. I have also found the exposure and networking platforms greatly invaluable.

Were there any challenges you were facing when you started your project?
Yes. Starting a small business in Kenya is always tough. There is complex bureaucracy that’s very discouraging especially when registering a new business; I also didn’t have enough money to take care of my initial expenses. It was also a big challenge for me to establish a good customer rapport due to the fact that I didn’t have experience in that field.

What is the most memorable feedback you have ever received on your project?
Last year during the elections, a client approached me with strict timelines. They needed to have 1000 posters in less than 10 hours. I was doubtful I could deliver, but I accepted the challenge and marshaled three friends who are in the same business as me. The job was done in less than 8 hours. The client was so pleased he offered to pay my rent for the next month!

What are the future plans for Moshua General Suppliers?
I hope to grow Moshua General Suppliers into a self-sustainable company within the next few years and one day list it in the Nairobi Stock Exchange market. This year we are planning to re-brand ourselves into a model branding agency specializing in digital branding and high-tech printing. We plan to also purchase the large format printing machine in the near future.

You have participated at the first Swiss Re Entrepreneurship Academy in December 2017. Do you think this was an added value for you and your business and would you recommend it to other entrepreneurs of Aiducation?
The Swiss Re Entrepreneurship Academy is by far the best Academy I have attended. The financial literacy lectures were quite insightful and the Mentors teachings and advice was indispensable. I would recommend the Academy to any budding entrepreneur.