Unemployment is one of the key issues affecting young people in Kenya today. Every year, an estimated 500,000 young people enter the job market from various tertiary learning institutions. Of this number, only 25% gain employment in the formal sector leaving 75% to bear the burden of unemployment. Of the 25% that gain employment in the formal sector young women who form a slight majority (51.7%) of the youth population take up only 29%. This is attributable to amongst others, inequalities in access to education; property ownership patterns and Impact of HIV/AIDS pandemic in young women; and increasing school and dropout rates.
One of ACWICT’s core competencies is the creation and delivery of programs that harness the power of ICTs to deliver to five key sectors of the Kenyan economy namely employability, education, health and governance.
Over the past several years, ACWICT has successfully conceptualized; designed and implemented a number of programs with an overall goal of improving economic prospects of young disadvantaged women ages 18-35 years in the urban informal settlements and rural Kenya through enhancing their employment prospects. Overall, the programs have trained 2,500 young women, with at least 50% of whom have been placed in gainful forms employment.
Our youth employability programs help the young women to acquire increased knowledge, skills and attitudes to become wage employees or create their own businesses. As their income increases, the economic situations in their communities will improve as well. The young women, who would otherwise resort to traditional forms of livelihood, are empowered and prepared to work in modern society.
ACWICT begun implementing its youth empowerment initiatives through the ‘Reaching the Unreached Program’. The Program is ACWICT’s flagship program on youth employment which was launched in January 2007 in partnership with Microsoft Corporation. It is a community-based capacity building initiative that trains young women in rural and urban communities in Kenya to apply ICT-enabled entrepreneurship. They do this to generate new business activities, new income, new jobs and in the long term community development opportunities.
The Program was implemented with ACWICT’s community based partners in Kisumu Town, Mbita in Suba District, and Budalang’i in Busia District through Community Technology Learning Centres equipped with computers and in some cases, internet connection. A total of 600 young women benefitted from this initiative.
The ICT skills building component was delivered using the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Training curriculum while the entrepreneurship component was delivered through a curriculum designed by business executives at ACWICT.
In July 2007, ACWICT partnered with the International Youth Foundation and Microsoft Corporation to scale up the ‘Reaching the Unreached’ program through a two year Youth Empowerment Program (YEP), whose goal was to improve employment opportunities for 1,200 young people, ages 18-35 in the informal settlements of Nairobi. This program was designed to scale-up the ICT and Entrepreneurship skills training as was being offered in partnership with Microsoft Corporation.
In January 2009, with the support of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential group, ACWICT replicated the ‘Reaching the Unreached: Youth Employability Program’ in Eldoret town. It set out to improve employability and empower disadvantaged young women in the slums of Eldoret town in the North Rift Town of Kenya, especially after the post election violence that rocked the country in 2008. At this centre alone, 720 young women are expected to be trained with at least 50% of them expected to be placed in gainful employment.
At the same time in January 2009, ACWICT secured another partnership with the International Youth Foundation, this time with Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. to implement a pilot phase for the ‘Samsung Real Dreams Program’. Through this program, ACWICT seeks to scale-up its youth employability program as implemented under the IYF/Microsoft partnership by increasing IT skills beyond basic ICT, providing business process outsourcing skills, life skills coupled with internship training and entrepreneurship support over a 24 month period ending December 2010.
In partnership with the International Youth Foundation and with support from USAID and World Learning, ACWICT is now rolling out a Reproductive Health Integration project. The project is expected to provide a comprehensive approach to youth development and employment through the provision of the Youth reproductive health knowledge and skills, which are crucial in minimizing the risks that limit opportunities for young women and enabling them to participate fully in their communities and society by taking control of their own lives and continue learning.
ACWICT is also preparing to implement an Impact Study on youth employability programming. The study which comes in form of a project will be supported by the International Youth Foundation, the World Bank and Microsoft Corporation. The project is expected to run through 2011.
While the challenges of meeting youth employment and economic empowerment needs are great, ACWICT emphasizes the value of youth as assets to society. With the right investments in education and health, life skills and employability skills, the disaffected youth in various regions of Kenya can be prepared to take the successful transition to be productively employed, life-long learners who will be active citizens of their communities and prepared to raise their own next generation of families.
ACWICT has developed strategic alliances with stakeholders from Government, private sector, NGOs, CBOs and international development partners. These alliances are helpful in providing training, employment opportunities, internship opportunities, business incubation services, and resources for business start-up such as technology, capital, legal information and mentorship for the young people. Accordingly such programming reduces vulnerability, marginalization, and disaffection among the underserved Kenyan youth.
- Ministry of Youth and Sports
- Ministry of Labour, Directorate of Industrial Training
- Mustek East Africa Limited
- Jamii Telecommunications Limited
- Kenya Data Networks
- Kentech Data Limited
- Verve K.O
- Hasoft Kenya
- Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN)
- VSO Jitolee
- Quick Data BPO
- Kenya Computer Resources Limited
- Digital Opportunities Trust
- Fusion Technologies Limited
- Horizon Contact Centers
- Flexi-personnel Limited