Kenyan software engineer turned philanthropist Nelly Cheboi bagged the 2022 CNN Hero of the Year Award on Sunday, December 11, securing a Ksh74 million reward.
In an event hosted at the American Museum of Natural History, CNN veteran journalist Anderson Cooper announced Cheboi as the winner emerging top among 10 other nominees.
Cheboi burst into tears of joy as she invited her family to join her at the podium to receive the prestigious trophy.
With the reward, she secured a Ksh1.2 million cash reward and a Ksh12.3 million grant to expand her work. Cheboi's win automatically confirmed her as the recipient of the Elevate Prize.
"The Elevate Prize Foundation includes a USD300,000 (Ksh37 million) grant and additional support worth USD200,000 (Ksh24.6 million) for her nonprofit.
Speaking after receiving the reward, she expressed her gratitude for the honour and noted that the funds would be used to realise her dream of bridging technological gaps in rural Africa.
"Every year, people are graduating into the corporate world without ever using a computer. This forces them to go back to the village with their education
"I want to get to 100 schools which translates to 40,000 school-going children. We need to rewrite what it means to grow up in rural Africa because people can work glamorous jobs and still work in your community," she stated.
Cheboi revealed that she would expand her work to Uganda and other neighbouring countries.
Initially, the 29-year-old made headlines in May for using her entire earnings from her high-paying software engineering job to purchase computers for children in Kenyan schools.
Through her company TechLit Africa, she sourced computers from the United States to equip laboratories in rural schools in Kenya.
In addition, the firm hires and trains teachers to run the laboratories and pass down the same knowledge and skill to children to prepare them for the digital world.
Cheboi was also listed among the 2022 Top 100 Kenyans by Kenyans.co.ke.