Zelmerlöw & Björkman Foundation helps marginalized youth in selected parts of Africa to pave their way from exclusion and poverty and to employment and a sustainable livelihood. This is primarily done through education. Together with local partners, we locate young people in the slums and help them to educate themselves, find their talents and driving forces, which in turn gives them hope for the future.
Thanks to our fantastic donors and partners, we have since 2013 had the opportunity to fund education projects in South Africa together with Star for life, a day center for street boys in Uganda together with Children of Ssuubi and construction management of a school in Ethiopia. Today, after several years of close cooperation with Global Relations and Isaach Macharia in Kenya, we can proudly present the Kenswed-model.
The Kenswed-model builds upon the notion that not mere academic education is enough for adolescents from difficult conditions to find their driving force and get out of poverty. We also need to include creativity and health care into the education and make sure that their basic needs are met. Because when young people feel hope, they contribute not only to their own development but also to the future of their society.
You can read more about the different parts of the model below.

Marginalized children and adolescents SHOULD receive an education, they SHOULD have the opportunity to develop their talents and they SHOULD be shown a way out of their marginalization. By doing this, I believe that the world will be a better place for everyone to live in, and therefore I started my foundation.

Måns Zelmerlöw, founder Zelmerlöw & Björkman Foundation


  • 300 students attend Kenswed upper secondary school, of which 56% are girls
  • 135 girls live at Kenswed’s boarding school
  • 35 boys receive accommodation by ZBF to be able to attend the Kenswed Academy
  • 7 students Kenswed graduates hold a university scholarship from ZBF
  • 4 Kenswed graduates are receiving higher vocational education payed for by ZBF
  • All students who have graduated from Kenswed have had passing grades
  • 30 places for street boys in Uganda so that they can attend a day center


Kenswed Academy is the upper secondary school and the education system that we, together with local partners, built, finance and operate in Ngong Hills, outside Nairobi, Kenya, for the children and youth who live in utmost poverty. Today, 300 students from the slums are divided into 7 classes. To support the academic teaching, we include equality, entrepreneurship, sustainability, sports, culture and health into the education. These adolescents have challenges we can’t even begin to imagine and thus, need more than mere traditional teaching, and that is why Kenswed is much more than just another school.


We have the ambition to always consider the aspect of sustainability when investing in new social services. ¨For instance, we have built a well, bought a biogas-powered stove and solar cell panels, as well as started our own beekeeping to replace sugar in the tea. Furthermore, we look to cooperate with the locals so that our presence creates a domino effect. For example, we use local construction engineers and create jobs for the local population at the Academy and in our adjoining operations.

Kenswed Hospital

In june 2019 were the doors to our newly built health and maternity care center at Kenswed opened. The center, financed by ZBF and our partner organizations Lööf Foundation and Rejlers AB, is another step towards providing good conditions for our students and the surrounding society. The Kenswed Hospital will initially focus on providing prenatal care (pre-birth) to pregnant women, as well as general health and sexual education for adolescents. In the long term, we also hope to be able to help with childbirth. Our goal is to provide the best healthcare by Kenyan standards to everyone who walks through the doors. Here you can see a short film about Kenswed Maternity and Health Center.

Kenswed Vocational Education 

Currently, we are planning to build our own Vocational University. We aim to offer even more students post-secondary education with a direct path to work. We are looking for partners who want to finance the construction of the various parts of the school as well as the education and operational costs, so that we can educate the students in e.g. entrepreneurship, hotels/administration, engineering, restaurant industry, carpentry, painting, plumbing, becoming an electrician, welding, programming, drone driving, security, tourism, nursing/assistance nursing/midwifery, solar panel installing and driving license training.

Examples of costs in the Kenswed-model

250 SEK = cost per month for a female student accommodated at the boarding school including breakfast, dinner, hygiene items, security and a loving supervisor​

550 SEK = cost per month for a student attending Kenswed, including teachers, teaching, classrooms, equipment and water​

​800 SEK= cost for all (300) students to receive breakfast and lunch a day​

11 000 SEK = annual cost of university scholarship for a student including social support​

50 000 SEK = Kenswed Hospital’s monthly cost of operation, including salaries, medicine, water, sanitation and materials

250 000 SEK = operating costs for a class for one year at Kenswed Academy including teachers, classrooms, equipment, water​

*All costs are exclusive of collection and administrative costs, the currency can also increase costs​


Around the Academy, we have built a community with local partners to give our students and, in many cases, the surrouding community, access to basic services. This is a prerequisite for our students to be able to attend school and focus on their education. An example is the well we dug so that clean water is accessible to not only all the students and staff but also several hundred families in the immediate area. The food at Kenswed is prepared by chef Nickson and made as nutritious and filling as possible from the commodities available.

Kenswed Boarding School

Early on, we discovered that many of our students either lived too far from home to be able to go to school or simply did not have a home. Thus, we built a boarding school. Today, 135 girls live in the boarding house led by the wonderful Naomi. At the boarding facilities you not only get a real bed with clean sheets but learn to wash your clothes, keep track of your things, the importance of good hygiene and learn to take advantage of the chances you get. On top of that, you are welcomed home by the warm embrace of Naomi. Since 2018, we have also assisted around 35 homeless boys with accommodation.

Kenswed – all the way to livelihood

In order for the students at Kenswed Academy to be able to get out of their poverty, it is in most cases not enough just to get an upper secondary school education. ZBF wants to follow the students as far as possible on their way to livelihood. Therefore, we try to find partners who can fund investments in income-generating activities, entrepreneurship, university scholarships and vocational education grants. Today, for example, we have funded university scholarships for seven students through our partner organization Help to Help.

Local ownership

Zelmerlöw & Björkman Foundation fulfills its goals by cooperating with local organizations. Global Relations is the executive organization for ZBF on site in Kenya. This means that everything ZBF does in Africa takes place in close consultation and together with local workers. It is a prerequisite that ownership and the desire for change are local in order for our work to provide a sustainable and long-term effect. This is why the local need governs our actions and not Swedish/donor interests. It is also after this collaboration that the model has been named: KenSwed (Ken = Kenya, Swed = Sweden).