We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague Evelyn Nkirote Gitonga.
Evelyn Gitonga was an exceptional Kenyan. At 35 years of age, she was driven by a dream of better healthcare in Africa and inspired many to join her cause.
Her seemingly infinite energy embodied the change that is leading the African continent towards a bright future.
She began her career in banking where she quickly moved up the ranks. By the time she turned 30, Evelyn had already worked her way up to become the Head of Credit Risk at a well-known Kenyan bank.
Instead of continuing her promising career in the banking world, she decided to use her talents to improve healthcare in Kenya.
In 2013, Evelyn joined the Medical Credit Fund helping to establish and grow the team and was later appointed to be the organizations’ East African Director of the Medical Credit Fund (MCF).
“The world lost a lovely soul! Such an incredible person of great exploits. You inspired lots of people with your passion, commitment and hard work. Not only were you a great mentor but also a great friend. I admired your ability to work with people and get solutions for the people. You shaped the healthcare financing landscape. Your style was a breath of fresh air.” – Georgine Mbeki, Colleague
Evelyn worked tirelessly to support over 400 clinics and hospitals with financing and trainings, enabling better and more affordable care to the millions that live in surrounding communities.
She built close relationships with doctors across Kenya and beyond, always making sure to take the time to listen to their concerns and plans, and patiently guided them to achieve their ultimate goals.
“I was very saddened to hear of the death of Evelyn Gitonga, who was a Director of the Medical Credit Fund East Africa – PharmAccess Group. I have known Evelyn for several years and she has supported us in various projects. Evelyn was always easy to approach, enthusiastic, helpful and went the extra Mile for what she believed in. We will miss her dearly.” – Dr. Michael Hülsmann, German Medical Center, Nairobi
Evelyn was frequently featured at professional conferences across Africa where she made her voice heard loud and clear; inspiring people and organizations from a wide range of industries to come on board with her agenda.
“I was heartbroken to learn of Evelyn’s passing. She was an absolute joy to work with – and I was lucky enough to spend time with her on a visit to Nairobi in September 2015 where I got to see her incredible work first hand. She was kind, thoughtful, and passionate about improving the healthcare system for all Kenyans – and she used her brilliance and experience to do so. She will be missed by me, our team at Calvert, and so many more. My heart is with you.” Beth Bafford, Vice President of Syndications and Strategy, Calvert Impact Capital
“Evelyn – you are a wonderful, creative, and inspiring banker and colleague, but more than that you are a wonderful person. We are all poorer today for your departure, but so much richer for having known you. You have left an indelible mark on everyone and everything you touched” – John Simon, Vice-chair, The Global Fund
Among her colleagues, Evelyn was well-respected and looked up to. She was known as a tough, yet fair and loving leader. She had a one-of-a-kind energy that filled up any room. As one of her one colleagues described, “If you stepped outside the office elevator, you already knew that she was there”.
For Evelyn, her work was more than just a job; it was a cause that she deeply believed in and that she worked with great passion and enthusiasm on. To her, her team was like a family who worked together to achieve their shared goal of achieving better healthcare in Africa.
At the same time, she did not forget to enjoy the small things in life. She travelled, cared for her friends and was close to her family.
“Evelyn ever thoughtful, a call or a visit from her just to find out how a Friends week was, a gift at hand for niece, nephew or a friends baby, fiercely loyal to all she cared for, fun-loving with her mantra “life is too short, it’s never that serious” – Sophia Mani, Friend of Evelyn
She seemed unstoppable in her mission until September 2017, when Evelyn was tragically diagnosed with cancer. Evelyn fought her disease bravely, undergoing chemotherapy at the Aga Khan University Hospital.
Initially, the treatment appeared to have good results, until tests following her last treatment revealed that the disease had returned. The only option left was a bone marrow transplant a treatment that is not currently available in Kenya.
Arrangements and fundraising for treatment abroad were underway, when Evelyn was admitted to the hospital in June 2018 with a serious complication of her disease. The day after, she passed away.
Her departure from this world has left a hole in the hearts of many, but she lit a light that continues to shine brightly in us all. Evelyn stood bravely for a promising future and helped us gain the needed courage to follow her lead. It is now in our hands to carry on this light to others and into the world.
Let us be inspired to complete her dream of better healthcare in Africa.
Let her passion fire our imagination to keep going in hard and good times, no matter the circumstances.
Let this light slowly replace the darkness of her passing and let us all remember what Evelyn stood for and represented: change.
Memorial page: https://www.forevermissed.com/evelyn-nkirote-gitonga/#about
Business Daily Tribute: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/lifestyle/fitness/Banker-who-championed-health-startups-financing/4258372-4609188-xvb26a/index.html