Marriott International Expands Job Partnership for Young African Women

Global Hotel Company Will Bring 24 Additional Graduates from Akilah Institute for Women to Train and Work in its Dubai and Doha Hotels.

Press Release

Marriott Graduates (Photo: Marriott International)
Marriott Graduates (Photo: Marriott International)

Washington, D.C., Twenty-four young African women between the ages of 18 and 30 have been selected to participate in the job training partnership in Dubai and Doha launched in 2012 between Marriott International (NASDAQ: MAR) and the Akilah Institute for Women in Kigali, Rwanda. Upon their graduation in December, the new Akilah graduates will join the first group of 17 young women, who began the training program in Marriott hotels in Dubai in the fall of 2012. All will return to Rwanda in 2014 to open Marriott’s first hotel in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Kigali Marriott.

Among the new group of employees will be Cecile Musanase and Julian Kankunda, who will speak on October 30 at an event in Washington, D.C., at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel to celebrate the partnership between Marriott and the Akilah. Also speaking will be U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State, Catherine Russell, former World Bank President Robert Zoellick, Akilah CEO and Co-founder Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes, and Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews.

“Thanks to partnerships like Marriott, Akilah placed 100 percent of our first graduating class in jobs that are building sustainable careers in Africa,” said Elizabeth Dearborn-Hughes. “These young women are thriving in their jobs at the hotels in Dubai and Doha, as they learn to become leaders for Marriott’s expanding portfolio of hotels in Africa.”

“Marriott is committed to investing in all the communities where we build hotels, including Africa,” said Kathleen Matthews, Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer at Marriott International. The Akilah partnership supports our strategy to serve our world, and meet our employment needs.”

Kigali Marriott (Photo: Marriott International)
Kigali Marriott (Photo: Marriott International)

As Marriott increases its presence in Africa more than six-fold from ten to 33 hotels by 2018, it anticipates hiring nearly 10,000 employees, the majority of whom will be local residents.  “We want promising, local talent to welcome our guests.  We have found some of that talent through our partnership with Akilah,” said Gary Dodds, Marriott International’s vice president of human resources for the Middle East & Africa, who leads the program.  “As part of our commitment to young people in Africa, a partnership like that with Akilah is something we wish to consider at each of our hotel openings including in Ghana and Ethiopia where we have committed to build a hotel.”

Opened in January 2010, Akilah offers a three-year business diploma with a focus in hospitality management, information systems or entrepreneurship.  The unique Akilah model emphasizes leadership and communication skills. Akilah works closely with the local private sector to develop market-relevant curricula and to ensure job placement for graduates in the fastest growing sectors of the economy.

The Kigali Marriott Hotel – owned by New Century Development Ltd. – will be the largest hotel in Rwanda at 250 rooms.

Currently, in Africa, Marriott has ten properties in three countries, including The JW Marriott Hotel Cairo Mirage City in Egypt and the Renaissance Tlemcen in Algeria.  In addition to the Kigali Marriott Hotel, the company has 23 hotels in the Africa pipeline, 10 of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa, including the Accra Marriott Hotel in Ghana (2014), The Ritz-Carlton Reserve Tamuda Bay in Morocco (2014), the Courtyard by Marriott and Marriott Executive Apartment Addis Ababa in Ethiopia (2015), the Librevilla Marriott Hotel in Gabon (2015) and the Contonou Marriott Hotel in Benin (2015).


About Marriott International
Marriott International’s commitment to society blends corporate financial contributions with in-kind giving and the volunteer service of our associates around the world. We participate in efforts to provide shelter, food, and children’s health, while creating career opportunities for our associates in the workplace and supporting education in the hospitality industry.  For more information about our social responsibility efforts visit

About Akilah Institute for Women
Akilah (which means “wisdom” in Swahili) is a college in Kigali, Rwanda, and Bujumbura, Burundi. Opened in January 2010, Akilah has developed a new model of higher education that emphasizes leadership development, market-relevant training and entrepreneurial skills. The first Diploma in hospitality management provides students with the skills and experience to become leaders and entrepreneurs in the hospitality industry, the fastest growing sector of the Rwandan economy, and a regional strategic development priority for the East African Community.  For more information, please visit

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Original Press Release: Marriott International