by David Miller
Five years and $90,000 later, a dream shared by students at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and young women in Kenya is flourishing.
Since its founding in 2010, the Global Impact Project has raised enough funds for 20 Kenyan women to obtain undergraduate degrees. The program is a combined effort between the Georgia chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, an honor society for finance and accounting students, and Imbako Public Health, an Alpharetta-based nonprofit that promotes the education and health of females in Kenya.
During Maymester, a group of Beta Alpha Psi student ambassadors and faculty advisor Patrick Turner traveled to Kenya to meet some of the scholarship recipients and witness the impact of the program.
Patrick Turner, an academic specialist in Robinson’s School of Accountancy, accompanied the students. “Through this trip the students saw the transformative power and value of education for the young women of Kenya,” said Turner. “It’s a matter of life and death there.”
Beta Alpha Psi president Ranjita Nair described the trip as “eye-opening.” “It was important for us to get a better insight into what these women experience,” said Nair. “We are able to show the other members of the chapter how the funds we raise are changing the students’ lives, their families’ lives and the community.”
Started with a Seed
The seed for the Global Impact Project was planted during a visit to Kenya by Allison Jacobs, then director of student services for the School of Accountancy. During her trip, Jacobs met with a professor from the University of Nairobi who described how hard it was for females to receive an education in Kenya. According to 2008 World Bank data (most recent available), only four percent of Kenyans between 18 and 25 receive tertiary education, and of that number less than half are female.
Jacobs, who also serves as an advisor to Beta Alpha Psi, initially suggested that the group raise enough money to send one Kenyan woman to university. The next step was to find a partner organization with Kenyan connections to identify scholarship recipients and distribute the funds. Through an alumni connection, Jacobs was introduced to Irene Okech, director of healthcare policy and finance for Imbako Public Health. The two were a perfect match.
The students of Beta Alpha Psi began work with a goal of sending one student to college in fall 2010 and one in spring 2011. Due to the success of their fundraising events, they quickly blew past that target and raised enough money to send five young women to university in the first year. Fast forward to today. The program has raised $90,000 and sent 20 Kenyan women to receive an undergraduate degree: two of whom have finished their studies.
In August 2012, two students graduated from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya, near the border with Uganda.
Doris Michoki lost her father at age 10, and had been helping around her home as her mother battled cancer. Doris and her younger brother relocated several times so that their mother would have access to better medical care. After struggling to put the money together to finish her high school education, Doris was not going to be able to afford to attend university.
Through the Global Impact Project scholarship, Doris was able to study business management so that she could support her younger brother.
Millicent Alividza Kasievera is the oldest of seven children. She and her siblings worked on farms to support their elderly parents. As with Doris, Millicent had difficultly funding her high school education. After receiving the scholarship, her parents said, “May God continually bless the hands that gave towards this fund.”
Millicent received an associate’s degree in business administration and management. After her graduation, she said “I am very happy, and to the Global Impact Project, I say thank you very, very much.”
Irene Okech of Imbako Public Health said, “Beta Alpha Psi and the Robinson College of Business are making a difference through this project. We are allaying disparities one girl at a time, one family at a time, one community at a time.”
Sights Set on the Future
“This visit has refocused the organization,” Nair said. “Our objective is far beyond raising money now. We have seen the impact and know that we can do more.” She hopes that the lessons they learned will be able to be transferred back to the Beta Alpha Psi members who did not travel to Kenya. Turner isn’t worried about that.
“I’ve been working with students for 19 years,” Turner said. “This is, by far, the largest student-organized activity I’ve ever seen on a campus. It’s far beyond what you’d expect students to be doing.”Find out more about Beta Alpha Psi and the Global Impact Project.