Neurodivergent in Tech Program: Empowering Neurodiversity during World Autism Awareness Month


The world marked World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. This day has been set aside by the United Nations to encourage member states to take measures to raise awareness about autistic individuals throughout the world, recognizing the differently abled in society who enrich our world with their unique perspectives and talents.

With an estimated 2.2 million autistic people worldwide, Kenya ranks 46th globally, in terms of autism prevalence. This underscores the importance of creating more awareness in Kenya to promote understanding, acceptance and support for autistic individuals and their families

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be detected as early as at 18 months of age. It is highly recommended to undergo routine screening by the child’s primary care doctor as early detection and intervention leads to improved outcomes.

This year’s World Autism Awareness Day theme, ‘Empowering Autistic Voices’ champions the celebration of autistic individuals’ exceptional qualities, recognizing them as invaluable contributors to our world. With their unparalleled attention to detail, focus, and innovative thinking, they add depth and diversity to our collective experience. By embracing and nurturing these talents, we not only empower autistic individuals but also enrich our communities and societies with their unique perspectives and contributions.

The Neurodivergent in Tech Program, a groundbreaking initiative by iLabAfrica, an innovation and research center at Strathmore University, seeks to empower neurodivergent individuals with the skills to secure employment. Launched in 2018, the 4-month program runs annually, from April to July. It offers training focused on the strengths of each individual, providing a conducive environment to learn skills such as web and mobile app development, game development, robotics, graphics design, and animation, among other emerging trends. Ten neurodivergent individuals are selected for the program each year. However, it’s not just about tech; participants also find friends and a real sense of belonging. 

The program has received global recognition. Specifically, in the 2023 edition of the QS Reimagine Education Awards, the program was shortlisted for the Access, Diversity, and Inclusion Award. This is a global award that aims to celebrate outstanding projects, programs, and training that pioneer advancements in teaching and learning.

The graduates of the program have gone ahead and secured employment in reputable companies such as Safaricom, Kenya Airways, Next Step Foundation, and Bloom Garden Autism Academy, a true testament of the excellent work being done by the dedicated staff of the program at iLabAfrica.

“It is truly inspiring to witness the transformation of our students throughout their journey in the program. From the moment they join to the time they graduate, their growth is remarkable,” articulated Irene Gitangu, the Program Lead. “They develop newfound confidence through which they not only expand their skills but also unleash their creativity, generating innovative ideas and crafting impressive apps and websites aligned with their interests. This demonstrates that with the right support and coaching, these students can achieve exceptional skills. They are shattering barriers and proving that meaningful employment opportunities are within reach for neurodiverse individuals.”

Commenting about the program, Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, stated, “I am proud to see the impactful outcomes of our initiatives as our students flourish and excel in their journey through the program. Their growth not only reflects their dedication but also underscores the effectiveness of our approach towards fostering innovation and inclusivity in the tech industry.” 


We call out to partners with shared interests to collaborate with iLabAfrica in empowering the neurodivergent community. At Strathmore University, we understand that great initiatives thrive on strong partnerships. Such support enables able but disadvantaged learners to enroll in the program, offering them a rare opportunity for growth and development. Moreover, partners can benefit from specialized training by collaborating with iLabAfrica, to enhance their own programs and initiatives. This collaboration fosters a more inclusive and impactful approach to capacity building and community development.

For more information on the Neurodivergent in Tech program, please feel free to reach out at


Article written by; Gertrude Wachira and Annita Kalekye Mwaniki, Alumni Relations Office


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