Today we missed our first day with the children of Red Rose to spend the day with some young entrepreneurs of Kibera.
“A day to empower our youth”!
Project Kenya initiated this Business Acceleration Training Program with the help of Uweza Foundation, I Choose Life-Africa and the Center for Community Development and Human Right.
For the first time, the 4 organizations join efforts under the Constituency of Ken Okoth (Kibera MP) umbrella to reduce unemployment in Kibera where funds and education are desperately lacking.
After three years of deep immersion in Kibera’s community and extensive listening of what it is to be a young adult in the slum, Pierrick decided to focus this year their actions towards young adults as youth unemployment is a major challenge among 16 to 35 years-old. This phenomenon is exacerbated in Kibera by the lack of higher education (60% of the children drop out of school after the Primary program and only very few reach College level) but also lack of access to information.
Project Kenya decided to allocate some of their raised funds to micro loans given to businesses with the better potential of becoming a start-up.
Today was meant to gather young entrepreneurs under one roof (20 teams composed of about 10 persons) and to empower them and encourage them to put their idea/product into action. Tomorrow , after all the 20 pitches, 10 teams will be chosen and given the necessary funds to start their business. Each project will receive a free three month training by the professionals from I Choose Life Africa, the Center for Community Development and Uweza Foundation. Those three organizations will mentor them all along their journey, in order to make them responsible for their actions.
Today, the young entrepreneurs had a direct access to young successful entrepreneurs (Fat Boy Animations), members of the government, heads of foundations, trainers, mentors and motivational speaker, whose goals were to convey the message that “Kibera is the home of Talents” and that no matter the many challenges that they face on a daily basis, POSSIBILITY, RESPONSIBILITY and POSITIVITY are the key to success, if only you believe in yourself and work hard to achieve your goal.
Malo and Pierrick took the stand to share their knowledge of Youth Empowerment Program in the US. They reinforced the message that anything is possible in Kibera, given their strong sense of community, the number of talents and amazing support system. As Malo said, “you cannot make it alone!” You need a combination of mentors and minds behind one idea to make it successful. “Business is about relationships and creating a movement that will support and make your business a success”. Pierrick put a strong emphasis on character and ethic of the loving people in Kibera. He said that “a college degree does not define you” and also that “failure is okay.” “You have to work hard to identify a problem and then think of the solution, and if this solution does not work, think of another, and another, and another, until one will begin to solve the problem. “
This day was also about giving the business tools to make things happen, as we all know that being entrepreneur is a process. You are not born an entrepreneur, you become one, through hard work, try-outs, failures and never giving up!
The young entrepreneurs were invited to share to share with us their daily struggles and the solutions they see as viables to overcome them:
– The problem: Unemployment. The possible solutions are the nurturing of talents, the creation of opportunities, the training and the recycling of plastic and waste.
– The problem: Lack of information. The solution: Penetrate inside community and diffuse the information, like the fact that there are funds available for young entrepreneurs. But on a wider scale, the population of Kibera needs to look outside of Kibera, open their eyes on ideas coming from elsewhere, read international newspapers and magazines, surf the Internet and bring whatever they learn as possible solutions to problems in Kibera.
– The problem: lack of Education. There are 9 primary government schools and 5 government secondary schools. Classrooms are overcrowded, with sometimes 100 students per class in high school. The solution: education program for secondary schools and vocational schools (professional, design, etc) that give way to a job more quickly. Education is key!
– The problem: Lack of action. The solution: do it! Take action! Do not put off your action!
– The problem: the environment is not clean. The solutions: the people should take care of their environment and a recycling machine that would transform the plastic into recycled object to be put back in use in Kibera.
We all learned so much today about what it is to live in Kibera. But we also understood that the people here have what it take within them to make it a better place! We just have to give them a little guidance, a little funding, and a lot of motivation, like the one given by Johnson Mwakazi, “building an entrepreneur is a mindset”, You have to live beyond the greater good, take responsibilities and ownership.