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Paying it forward: The alumna supporting young girls to access education

1 May 2024

In 2023, entrepreneur Grace Munyiri (MSc 2023) won the Gavin Davidson Social Enterprise Award. 

Funded by alum Gavin Davidson (MBA 1992), the award supports Cardiff University students who are passionate about tackling inequality and creating positive social change. Grace was awarded £3,000 for her work at Cacumator Mentorship, having demonstrated strong business skills and an idea with social impact.  

Here, she tells us about her mission to widen access to education, and how the support she’s received has helped her build a brighter future for all. 

Tell us about you and your work at Cacumator Mentorship. 

Cacumator Mentorship is not just a programme – it’s a deeply personal mission. Growing up in Kenya, I faced first-hand the challenges that many young African girls encounter in accessing education. The long walks to school, the scarcity of resources, and the societal pressures nearly derailed my dreams. I recall the nights spent studying by candlelight, the moments of doubt, and later the overwhelming sense of accomplishment upon graduation.

Witnessing many young girls forced to drop out of school due to early marriages, where education for girls wasn’t highly regarded, only fuelled my determination to found Cacumator Mentorship in 2016. The programme provides individual support, resources, and skills training to help mentees pursue education, and ultimately succeed in both their professional and personal lives. We have supported hundreds of young African girls to date, and plan to reach many more. 

When I was younger, I was fortunate to have my own mentors who believed in me and supported me every step of the way. Cacumator Mentorship is my way of paying forward that support, ensuring that every young girl, regardless of her background, has the same opportunities I did.

How did your mentors support you on your journey? 

My mentors’ guidance has been pivotal. They saw potential in me when I couldn’t see it in myself, giving me the courage to push past my limits. Their words of wisdom, encouragement, and unwavering support have shaped me into the woman I am today. Their impact is the driving force behind my commitment to mentorship.

What are your long-term goals for Cacumator Mentorship, and how has the Gavin Davidson Social Enterprise Award helped you make progress towards them? 

The £3,000 award has helped us to broaden our reach and deepen our impact, working towards a ripple effect of change that transcends generations.  

One significant initiative supported by these funds was our outreach efforts to new communities. These visits provided invaluable opportunities to engage directly with African girls and their families, igniting conversations about the importance of education and inspiring hope for a brighter future. 

The award also allowed us to enhance existing programs and provide comprehensive support, from educational materials to skill-building workshops. We forged partnerships with local schools to create sustainable pathways for long-term engagement, and to instil values of resilience and ambition in the hearts of young girls.  

We also recognised the crucial role families play in shaping a supportive environment for girls’ academic journeys. By organising workshops and seminars for parents, we offered guidance on how they can actively support their daughters’ aspirations.  

Long-term, I envision every young girl who joins our programme not only achieving her educational goals but also becoming a catalyst for change in her community. I aim to break the cycle of poverty and inequality that plagues many African girls, empowering them to become leaders, change-makers, and advocates for education. 

How did you feel when you were announced as the winner of the award? 

Being shortlisted and eventually announced as the winner was a moment of pure joy and gratitude. I was overwhelmed with emotion, tears of joy flowing down my face. It was validation of the countless hours of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice that the Cacumator Mentorship team and I have put into this programme.

It was also a reminder that our work is supported and valued, encouraging us to continue striving for excellence in empowering young girls.

How have you found your experience as a master’s student at Cardiff University? 

My experience of studying Cardiff’s MSc in Data Science and Analytics has been transformative. The university has not only provided me with a world-class education but also given me a platform to amplify my voice and make a difference in the world. I’ve actively participated in various roles within the Students’ Union leadership team as well as engaging with several clubs. The support I’ve received from my professors, classmates, the Student Futures team, and the wider university community has been invaluable in shaping my journey and the work of Cacumator Mentorship. 

What would you say to an alum considering supporting a Cardiff University student and their ambitions? 

Your support has the power to change lives.  Your investment in their future is an investment in a brighter, more equitable world for all.  

One of my mentors, a fellow Cardiff alumna, has initiated the Imisa Mategwa – Nina Sauti Scholarship, which will support a Sub-Saharan African female at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture. This is just one example of how alumni can help students access the resources and opportunities they need to achieve their dreams. 

Find out more about supporting students at Cardiff University. 

There are also lots of other ways you can volunteer your time and expertise to help inspire and support the next generation of Cardiff University students and alumni.