By Kembet Bolton
Kagwiria is feminist activist and a storyteller based in Nairobi, Kenya and the incoming Director of ‘’With and For Girls Collective’’ which gives $3m in flexible awards and an additional $1 million in leveraged funds to grassroots, girl-led and girl-centred organizations.
Kagwiria said frustration and hope got her into philanthropy. “I was frustrated that many young women’s initiatives rarely got funding due to lack of a track record in receiving and managing grants and lack of someone to second the young women for grants,” she said.
The ‘’With and For Girls Collective (WFGC)’’ is a group of organizations that share the common belief that girls are vital agents of change. The ‘’With and For Girls Award’’ launched in 2014 and is convened by the U.K based Stars Foundation which collaboratively works alongside eight other strategic partners: MamaCash, Comic Relief, EMpower, FRIDA-The Young Feminist Fund, NoVo Foundation, Nike Foundation, Plan International UK and the Global Fund for Children. The Collective has a goal to ensure girl-led and girl-centered organizations around the world have the resources and platforms they lack and need to drive change.
The funders and grantees both believe that grassroots girl-led organizations are on the frontlines of responding to girls’ needs and driving change towards a more equitable world. They believe that core, unrestricted funding unlocks the greatest potential for local organizations to play a leading role in transforming societies and building gender equality. Organizations which are awarded work on a variety of thematic issues – from ending child marriage, realizing sexual and reproductive health and rights to refugee rights, trafficking and supporting LGBTQIA+ rights.
The WFGC funds 20 organizations a year as part of an awards package. Through the With and For Girls Awards, the Collective identifies strong organizations with girls at their center, and provides flexible funding, profile raising opportunities, capacity development support and opportunities to connect and collaborate with other girl-led and centered groups.
They support grassroots, girl-led and girl-centered organizations with annual incomes between $15,000 and $500,000. The Collective also works with funders to leverage additional resources for girl-led and girl-centered groups, amplifies the work of grassroots groups and girls voices in the media, and influences funding practices so organizations can receive more support to continue to take action and to thrive. To date, WFGC has provided a total of $1.95 million of flexible funding to 60 organizations working in 41 countries.
Kagwiria serves as an advisory member of East Africa Girls’ Brain Trust, has previously served as a founding advisory committee member of the FRIDA (The Young Feminist Fund). She was constantly grappling with the question, where is the money for girls and young women activism? Over the years, she has also been involved in seeding young women led initiatives as a first funder and this has opened opportunities for them to access more funding. She was also driven by hope that with a few critical voices, the terrain could change and include more girls and young women initiatives without using such a rigid lens.”
She is passionate about nurturing girls’ freedom and agency, gender equality as well as enabling girls and young women to access spaces to advance themselves and their communities. She sees herself as a learning leader who is committed to cultivating authentic and empathetic leadership in herself and others.
Kagwiria has dedicated her life to ensuring that girls and young women from poor backgrounds can have opportunities to dream and work towards the futures they hope to see.