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Ann Cotton

Ann Cotton is the Founder of Camfed International, an organisation advancing girls' inclusion in education in Africa. Under her leadership over 20 years, the organisation expanded its work from Zimbabwe into Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia, establishing programmes that enabled girls from poor families to travel through the education cycle from pre-school to tertiary level. Working in partnership with communities and African government ministries, Camfed has built around girls a social and institutional ecosystem in which they, and other children and young people, can thrive. In 2017, the 100,000th young woman joined the Camfed alumnae, each member transformed by education into a powerful role model and change agent. Ann's vision of principle-based leadership continues to influence the international development sector. She has been awarded a number of honours including an OBE, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cambridge and The Open University, Skoll and Schwab Foundation Fellowships, and a WISE Laureate.

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Camfed International
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Non-profit Social Enterprise
Education; Entrepreneurship
United Kingdom
Areas of Impact
Europe, Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania

Camfed International

Camfed is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change. Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage and where their education has transformative potential.

Camfed not only supports girls and young women through school, but also on to new lives as entrepreneurs and community leaders. To complete the “virtuous cycle,” and create sustainable change, graduating students become CAMA alumnae, many of whom return to school to train and mentor new generations of students. Camfed partners with communities and governments to reach the most marginalized, increase the quality of education, measure results, share best practices, embed innovation, and create sustainable change.

Between 1993 and 2017, Camfed's innovative community-led education programmes directly supported more than 2.6 million children to go to school at more than 5,700 partner schools in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi. In 2014, Camfed was recognized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development for best practice in taking development innovation to scale. In late 2014, Camfed made a historic commitment to support 1 million adolescent girls in rural Africa through secondary school by 2020 – a truly transformational pledge. Camfed can make this commitment because donor generosity is being trebled by the philanthropy of CAMA alumnae, who each, on average, support two more girls to go to secondary school and whose communities are stepping up behind them to offer the time and resources required to create strong networks of support for vulnerable girls, ensuring they go to school, stay in school, learn and succeed. Millions more children will benefit as a result.


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