Footprints of a Young Social Entrepreneur
As a young person I dream of changing the world.
Through my University volunteer experience, I witnessed the plight of those living under a dollar a day. The consequences of a life not chosen but still endured. This exposure, led to the maturity of my thoughts from ‘how I would spend my Friday nights in night clubs’ to ‘how I can be a part of change’.
After my graduation I began a journey of turning students into industry consultants last year in January. This innovative approach of equipping students with the much needed work experience has me excited ever since. However, I am most proud that at age 24, I am moving the proverbial mountains.
My idea is simple. I approach local businesses convince them to outsource projects to students then I source for the best students from various campuses to come on board and tackle the project. This system gives students a chance to earn while learning whereas allowing local businesses to tap into the vast pool of the student market.
While starting this venture, my thoughts were simple.
Young people make up a majority of the consumer market. We are mobile, and though we lack the necessary experience, there is an abundance of knowledge and a curiosity for ‘know how’ within our circles. With these qualities, I believed that students are able to offer low cost consulting to startups, charity organizations (with low budget project) and SMEs. And I was right. A few months into the planning and proof of concept stage, the idea caught the attention of the international eye of innovative thinkers, movers and shakers.
Watson institute honored me with a scholarship and I was honored to further understand leadership, development practices and entrepreneurship. Being among 20 young leaders and entrepreneurs globally was a major milestone for me.
This experience was subsequently followed by other opportunities, a phase colored by international and local commendations and travel. Finally a humble boy brought up in a middle class Kenyan family gets the privilege to travel the world. From the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, Global Citizenship Award, to East Africa Emerging Innovators Award. I could not have been more proud of myself.
However, while the spot light lit up my life idea was being blinded. I soon realized that the travelling meant that the idea stagnated because I had trainings and workshops to go to. Finally I decided to settle and stay away from the spot light. This year, my team rolled out 4 projects with local partners to which achieved an 80% completion and client satisfaction. With this success the platform my team created attracted over 600 students from various universities and engages 72. Then, all hell broke loose.
Since the venture is a social enterprise, attracting investors has been a nightmare. This coupled with unsuccessful grant applications left my team vulnerable and unable to meet simple expenses. To add salt to injury, local companies business find the program interesting, however many opt out at the last minute on a count of ‘risky investment’.
Today I received a final notice invoice, we have been able to meet a 30$ expense. My passion for effecting change still continues. My worry is lack of resources. However, I believe that with every challenge comes opportunity. I am open to seeing what opportunities are aboard this setback.
Author is the Founder of Youth LITE Kenya