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Elpida Kokkota


March 22, 2023

Obama leader uses economic education to empower women

Elpida Kokkota, a woman with a light skin tone, smiles at the camera. Her portrait in grayscale. She has long black hair and is wearing a yellow jacket, white shirt, and coral lipstick. The background is a blue and yellow half circle.

“Education was my north star,” said Elpida Kokkota.

She is a 2023 Obama Foundation Europe Leader, who uses economic education to empower women. Her non-profit, Mexoxo, specializes in building social impact plans for corporations, and small and medium businesses through growth strategies that support the socioeconomic growth of communities as a whole.

“I started Mexoxo to give the gift of education to other women,” Kokkota reflected. “My mother was a single mother who sacrificed so much. She survived social injustice, gender inequality, limited opportunities, and still raised me to be the first woman in my family to not only finish a bachelor’s degree but also a master’s and speak four languages.”

To date, Mexoxo has directly served more than 31,000 women worldwide.

“We connect women with our network of more than 250 global stakeholders from corporations, academia, government, and local NGOs. I founded Mexoxo to create pathways of change for women, their families, and their communities,” she said.

Kokkota is currently filming a documentary in Kenya on Mexoxo’s impact.

“A year ago, we started the program, She is Digital, for digital literacy in Kenya. With the help of our local partners, Girl Child Network and The L’Oréal Fund for Women, we educated and empowered 10,200 women in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, the second largest slum in Africa, and other remote areas,” Kokkota said. “A few days ago, we arrived in the country to meet some of the women and give them additional education. We met Jame, a mother of two who attended our course last year and managed to promote her arts and crafts store at Nairobi’s cultural markets through Facebook, which helped her get more customers. This opportunity allowed her to put food on the table and safely rent a place for herself. She aspires to find more customers online and put her children through school and university.”

Elpida Kokkota smiles as she stands next to Jame Kalekye Mutambya, a Black woman with a deep skin tone and short hair, and Mercy Musomi, a Black woman with a deep skin tone and short curly hair. Jame holds a peace sign as they stand in front of a booth at a Naroibi cultural market. In the background is art and handmade bags.

Elpida Kokkota poses for a photo with Jame Kalekye Mutambya and Mercy Musomi.

Kokkota says her involvement in the Leaders Europe program is pivotal to her personal and professional growth.

“Since the passing of my mother, I have been redefining who I am and where I belong as a leader. The guidance and mentorship from this opportunity has been invaluable,” Kokkota shared.

She says the hope of a better future for women and girls is a driving force behind her work.

“My name, Elpida, means hope in Greek. It is a meaning that leads my being. My hope is that women and girls live in more balanced societies where humans respect each other for who they are. I want all women to find their place in the world,” she said.

Elpida Kokkota extends a measuring tape alongside a pasta-made diagram held by a young woman with a light medium skin tone and short curly hair. Kokkota is wearing a shirt that reads, “Girl power.

Elpida Kokkota measures a diagram held by a young student.