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FEATURE | YOUNG AFRICAPITALISTS

THE INSPIRATIONAL BUSINESSMAN Kenyan Wiclif Otieno set up Kito International in 2011. The non-profit organisation helping young people escape the street was inspired by his own experience growing up in Nairobi’s Mathare slum. Orphaned at seven, he spent most of his adolescence on the streets, as a labourer but also engaging in gang activities and taking drugs. Kito International provides young people with a two-month formal training programme in entrepreneurship, personal

finance, sales and marketing, leadership and teambuilding. Graduates of these programmes spend four months working with EcoSafi, a social enterprise run by Kito. “Give street youth an economic opportunity and they will work their way out of poverty and stay off the streets forever,” says Otieno. At EcoSafi, young people can put their new skills into practice and gain hands-on experience in a business environment.

More than 70 people have completed Kito’s programme and gone on to start their own businesses, find full-time employment or continue their education with the help of the organisation’s scholarship scheme. “A job signifies a bridge to social reintegration. For those who have never been employed a job is a source of pride and security,” says Otieno. (www.kitointernational.org)

T HE SKILLS DEVELOPER Malawian Rosebill Satha’s social enterprise JARDS Products manufactures affordable, high quality eco-friendly furniture. Satha’s team also train young people and women in furniture making crafts including bamboo weaving and bead working, as well as entrepreneurial skills. Satha, who started out weaving wedding baskets for friends, was encouraged to incorporate JARDS’ social element by her mother, who works for the Ministry of Gender and Children Welfare of Malawi and has worked with disadvantaged women groups in villages. JARDS specifically targets disadvantaged women and youth in semi-urban areas, often “forgotten when it comes to development programmes,” she says. Her ultimate goal is that JARDS grow into a skills development centre. She also wants JARDS to become a sought-after brand. “When a basket is

picked up I want people to know it is a good quality, handmade product.” She also wants Malawi to be recognised as a country with skilled artisans on the “weaving map.” The business was rocked by the economic slowdown. “I almost closed as people were only buying what they needed, not what they wanted. As we needed the money to conduct the entrepreneurship trainings, things were coming to a standstill,” she recalls. Since then, milestones include Satha’s selection as a 2012 Community Solutions Fellow and a One Young World (OYW) Delegate. She was chosen as role model entrepreneur of the year for the National Association of Business Women of Malawi and won OYW’s social business accelerator grant. “This has helped us to keep on doing the work we love,” she says. (http://jardsproducts.wordpress.com/)

THE SERIAL SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR At 26 years of age, Kenyan Kiziah Philbert is a serial social entrepreneur. His latest for-profit venture aims to boost micro agriculture. Hunger Below Zero provides infrastructure and training through a franchise model to boost small-scale agricultural production. “Millions of people who live in disadvantaged communities in Kenya suffer from poor nutrition. They need easy access to affordable, fresh, organic

vegetables on an ongoing basis. People are also subject to escalating food prices and hefty travel costs,” Philbert says. Key initiatives under the business’s slogan “Plant, Eat, Repeat” include improving the quality of soil in many disadvantaged areas and boosting farming skills. The organisation’s biggest challenge is commitment from funders. “The government doesn’t pay

enough attention to issues around food security, even in areas where hunger is killing people in this modern age,” he says. He also established the independent community bank PesaPedia, which brings financial services to marginalised groups, and the not-for-profit organisation Sponsor a Child Kenya. (@HungerBelowZero)

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The Africapitalist