A life transformed

A Life Transformed


Karimu's Tanzania Regional Director, Shau Erro Ae, has accepted an invitation to the 2024 summer Executive Program at Stanford University, long a global hub for education, innovation, and leadership. In rigorous competition with applicants from around the world, Shau won the scholarship that the Stanford Executive Program's alumni offer every year. 


Shau was born in Ayalagaya Ward into a family of nine children, supported by a mother whose annual income was two hundred dollars--twice the cost of sending a child to school for one year. Their house had mud walls and a grass roof. There was no furniture and everyone slept on the dirt floor. The house had no electricity, making it impossible to study after dark. Shau worked to pay for his own education, raising goats and chickens. 


By the start of his second year of secondary school, he needed financial help, so he decided to ask for his father's assistance in paying for his studies. His father lived ninety kilometers away and Shau walked from 4:30 in the morning until after midnight to get there.  His father rejected the plea and even turned down his son's request for bus fare to get home. 


Shau, who has a fine voice, was singing in his church choir. He opened up about his difficulties to the priest. The church, his mother, and a number of older relatives got together to pay his school fees, and outstanding grades finally earned him a government scholarship to attend university.


When Karimu's Chief Operating Officer, Nelson Mattos, met Shau, he owned twenty chickens and he was selling their eggs. Shau had believed that his Bachelor of Arts degree might lead to a job as a Swahili teacher, but he experienced the frustration that is common among college graduates in Tanzania's overcrowded labor market. He volunteered at Bacho Primary School, which he had attended as a child, hoping an opportunity would materialize. That happened when he was hired to translate for the Karimu volunteer trip in July 2017. Struck by the young man's positive attitude, hunger for knowledge, resilience, drive, and humility, Nelson chose Shau to be our first full-time employee. 


Shau has taken advantage of every available Karimu project. He received training in financial services and learned about record keeping, decision-making, and the importance of saving. He has joined our vanilla project and he is using Biochar to reduce his dependence on industrial fertilizers and increase yields. He is driving the local introduction of avocados for export and he has learned how to raise chickens commercially. Like Ayalagaya Ward's teachers, he received computer training and learned about the Internet. He has already developed formidable leadership and project management skills to take to Stanford.


Shau now owns a beautiful home, several farms, and a motorcycle, and he and his wife have three sons. Every morning his children are picked up to be driven to an excellent private school. His story illustrates the core Karimu belief that people can climb out of poverty if they receive the basics of sanitation, health, education, income opportunities, and access to financial services. He is one of many people in Ayalagaya Ward who have dramatically improved their lives by leveraging what Karimu has brought.



While Karimu has helped transform Shau’s life, his integrity, intelligence, and determination have taken him far. He will take full advantage of what Stanford has to offer. Upon receiving this prestigious scholarship, Shau wrote: 


"This opportunity to join the Stanford Executive Program is not just a milestone in my career,  but is a basic journey towards personal and professional growth. It's a chance for my community and Karimu to have a big impact. The knowledge and skill I will get from this program will have a lasting impact on my life. As the Stanford slogan says  “Change Lives ● Change Organizations ● Change the World”. I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and fully committed to making the most of it."