In a country where the media is filled with negativity and what MPs are doing every weekday, it is easy to be drowned in all this content and miss opportunities available. I am definitely in the camp, my social media feed is filled with so and so is dating nani, therefore, when I get a chance to get something positive or something that’ll impact my life I grab it with open arms and I thought it’ll be nice I share the same with you.
Let me give you a back story and why I’m writing to share this message with you.
From the top, I am a nineteen-year-old teenager, living in Kariobangi. I dropped out of school at Form 3 after I got pregnant, I see you say the earth is hard for me it was a new level hard. As a young unmarried mother, living with a single aunt who takes care of my son and me. She sells boiled maize for a living to keep us going. I have been vulnerable to social stigma due to my choices and there’s a feeling of shame and the discrimination keeps eating me. Top all that up with tough economic times, I can only focus on raising my 1-year-old son because there’s nothing to look forward to.
You imagined it right, being a form 3 dropped out in a country filled with unemployed graduates. The idea of applying for a job is a far fetched dream for me, you know. I mean how can I even can? My options for the future are limited to either getting married mostly to older men (it is weird nowadays that even the older men don’t want to be with a single mother, trust me I tried) for a sense of security or piecing together odd jobs so I could sustain my son and me and to some extent my aunt.
Odd jobs were the way for me to support me and my son, and some bread crumbs for my aunt. I did some cleaning jobs, and when fortunate I would be called to Muthaiga to clean for a lady who has been kind to me. I call her Mama! She pays me really well, and when I’m at her house doing chores I get a chance to eat sausages and she’s also kind enough to allow me to carry some for my family at home.
One thing I appreciate is the resilience that I have learnt from my aunt, she kept reminding me that mistakes happen and “yes, I’m not happy about this situation and how things turned out for you, but tufanye bidii.” She kept reminding me to think of starting a business and for her, it was sustainable and will allow me to spend more time with my son.
Keeping this rock-solid advice in mind, I was saving money and to learn how business works and how to relate with customers. My aunt used to let me manage her business and later I started selling roasted groundnuts next to her. My life is nothing close to comfortable but my aunt has helped me appreciate the little winnings in life, and my aunt kept pushing me to think bigger; and bigger for me was running a cosmetic business in my mtaa. I could imagine ladies walking by my shop and buying lipsticks or a lotion.
Back to how we miss opportunities, Mama called me for my regular chores that happen once a week. This time it was different, when I got as always we exchanged quick hellos with the guard, but this time he told me that Mama has said you wait for her before starting work.
I was scared! A million questions were running through my head, “what did I do wrong?”
In my paranoia, Mama came in and asked me one question “What do you know about KYEOP?” This was new to me because it was something that I had never heard of. Mama explained to me that Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) is a transformational project that aims to empower and uplift the well being of the youth in Kenya by equipping them with essential training, internship, and business grant opportunities.
I was shocked to learn this from Mama, for me the shocker was when she listed the requirements needed to enrol on the project. Let me list the requirements for you, stay with me because you’ll be surprised:
- Youth aged between 18-29
- Education level of up to form four or below
- Kenyan citizen
- Currently unemployed/underemployed
- Not currently enrolled in school or planning to join in the next 8 months
That was exactly my reaction!
I felt a sense of hope and an opportunity to compete but also I was angry at myself, how come I didn’t know about this project. I thought I was tech-savvy and living in an information era – how come I didn’t know about this?
Using my smartphone, I spent the entire night reading articles, researching about KYEOP on their website and monitoring conversations on their social media i.e. Facebook and Twitter. I learnt that the project has four distinct components, which are interlinked and aim to reach youth directly and indirectly. These components are;
- Improving Youth Employability – This component aims at providing targeted youth with training and work experience in the private sector with the goal of improving youth employment outcomes, it is jointly implemented by the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs (MIIYA) and National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).
- Support for job Creation which responds to the need for job creation with initiatives to help launch new businesses, improve the productivity and job creation potential of existing micro-enterprises and among self-employed youth, and support innovative approaches to improving job and earning opportunities among the hard-to-reach youth.
- Improving Labour Market Information responds to the problem of obtaining timely information about labour demand and supply as well as career prospects in Kenya. Kenya Labour Market Information System (KLMIS) helps private and public actors in the labour market make decisions by providing access to relevant information.
- Strengthening Youth Policy Development – This component provides support for strengthening youth policy development, monitoring and evaluation, and management of the project. This component will support capacity building for the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs (MIIYA), management and coordination of the overall project.
In my search, I came across an ad that was calling for applications from the youth. I carefully evaluated the poster shown below.
Everything for me in terms of meeting the requirements was a check. What was even surprising was how low the eligibility criteria were, this to me was the clear definition of the bottom-up economy approach.
I was excited and immediately shared my new lessons with my aunt and I saw this as the opportunity I have been looking for. The excitement could not let me sleep, I started scribbling down my business idea for the cosmetic business no matter how sketchy it was – after carrying out the research I really wanted to impress. I knew the universe was handing me something and I wanted to do my part.
In the morning I went to Tosh’s cyber since the application is done purely online. I was for sure a bit tense but remembered what my aunt told me “You already do not have it, the only thing that will change is you getting it.”
The application process was pretty straight forward and they had questions that I was to just enter the answers to in the form, see image below. What intrigued me as well, was the fact that they were so accommodating in the application process even asking you to specify your disability type.
I already submitted my application and from my research, it seemed like this particular opportunity is on a rolling basis and the gov’t will always keep taking more and more youth and providing them more opportunities.
I’m sharing this information because I was ignorant of an opportunity that might change my life and provide for my son and me. I want you to also be part of this, even if you might not be interested in the project please share it with someone else.