• Awarded: 2005
  • Issue Areas: Economic Opportunity · Education · Livelihoods · Post-Secondary Education · Secondary Education · Women's and Girls' Education · Youth Job Skills
  • Region: Eastern and Southern Africa · West and Central Africa
  • Web:
  • About the Organization

    Camfed is an international non-profit organization that tackles 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 empowerment is now transforming communities.

    Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, and Malawi have directly supported over 1.4 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and over 3.5 million children have benefited from improved learning environments.

    Camfed believes that every child is entitled to a quality education in a safe environment and a life as an independent young adult. Camfed directly supports girls because they are the first to drop out of school, and the first to be failed by the system, facing the perils of early marriage, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.

    As an activist organization, Camfed devises robust, sustainable, and transparent programs accountable first and foremost to the girl, and designed to deliver systemic change.

    Tens of millions of children, many of them girls, do not go to school, robbing both the girls themselves and their communities of opportunities and leadership.

    Camfed addresses cultural and financial barriers with scholarships and a network of support for each child.

    Ann Cotton believes that education is the best investment a developing country can make.

    Camfed supports millions of girls in nearly 5,000 schools, who will become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, teachers, and community leaders.

    Ambition for Change

    A generation of girls completing school, developing aspirations to be lawyers, doctors, business owners, and to be part of the development of the social fabric of their communities, and to make sure that the next generation is not born to poverty.

    Path to Scale

    Demonstration and Policy Reform
    Complement replication of direct service programs with policy engagement aimed at integrating its educational model into national education systems in developing countries.

    Business Model

    Philanthropic and corporate support of community-based programs supporting girls’ education and leadership; advocacy and technical support to bring innovations into national systems.

    Educator Ann Cotton traveled to Zimbabwe in 1991 to study the problems that keep girls out of school.  She learned that the conventional wisdom was wrong: poverty, not culture, was the true barrier. Families with limited resources for school fees and other costs chose to invest in boys, who had a better chance to get jobs.  She started Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) in 1993, raising money through bake sales to pay school fees for 32 girls. CAMFED developed a model to address both cultural and financial barriers, going beyond scholarships to weave a network of support around each child and support her education as far as she wants to go. The governance model engages families and communities to support groups of girls, who also support each other in a virtuous cycle of educational achievement, female leadership, and commitment to girls' education.  By 2005, CAMFED had an alumnae network of 4,700 girls and young women, and had provided material support such as uniforms, books, and fees for more than 240,000 girls in some 1,000 schools in four countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Impact & Accomplishments

    • Played a significant role in Zambia’s adoption of its Child Protection policy
    • Expanded program to Malawi and Ghana, alumnae network expanded to 19,550
    • School network expanded to 4,743
    • In 2013, 2 million girls received material support to stay in school, including 105,000 who received bursaries to attend secondary school. These girls recorded a 90 percent attendance rate.
    • Nearly 4,000 girls progressing to the highest level of secondary education in 2013


    Abigail KainduCoordinator Leadership, Camfed
    Andras MadaiConsultant, Camfed
    Ann CottonFounder and President, Camfed
    Dolores DicksonExecutive Director, Camfed
    Faith NkalaDeputy Executive Director, Camfed
    Kim GrahamDevelopment Officer, Camfed
    Lucy LakeChief Executive Officer, Camfed
    Lydia WilbardCo-Director, Camfed
    Rafiatu LawalNational Chairperson, Camfed

    See All Awardees →