Kenyan techprenour who teaches tech skills to sustainably solve poverty named CNN’s Hero of the Year
Nelly Cheboi from Kenya has been named the CNN’s 2022 Hero of the Year, honored for her efforts in providing computer training for rural Kenyan schoolchildren through her non-profit TechLit Africa.
Online voters selected Cheboi as the top winner from a field of 10 heroes. The CEO and founder of TechLit Africa grew up in grinding poverty in rural Kenya. “I never forgot what it was like with my stomach churning because of hunger at night,” even though her mother “worked really hard to educate us,” she told the media.
On a full scholarship at Augustana College in Illinois, she “fell in love” with computer science and knew she had found her career path. It wasn’t until she began working in the software industry, however, that she realized that companies just throw away computers when it’s time for an update.
Thus, in 2019, Cheboi quit a lucrative software engineering job in Chicago to create computer labs for Kenyan schoolchildren. She said she knew there were children in Kenya who had no idea what a computer was and so TechLit Africa was born. TechLit Africa currently serves 10 schools and Cheboi hopes to be in 100 more within a year. Her students attend daily classes in a variety of computer skills, including coding, and they also have the opportunity to engage in remote learning. “I feel so accomplished seeing kids that are 7 years old touch-typing, knowing that I just learned how to touch-type less than five years ago,” she said. As CNN Hero of the Year, Cheboi will receive $100,000 to expand her work.