Tech Training Tackles Youth Unemployment in Kenya’s Largest Urban Slum — Five Personal Stories from Kibera

WFP’s EMPACT programme provides digital skills through a tailored, focused vocational training programme, and partners with leading tech firms like Fiverr and Pluralsight, to connect trainees with online work opportunities. Photo: Kevin Ogesi

Ian Kimaru, 27

I am finally able to buy enough food and rent a house of my own

Before EMPACT, I couldn’t afford even basic living such as food and housing. I stayed at my friend’s place, barely making ends to meet. EMPACT digital training was life-changing. In just three months, I got familiar with new IT tools and learned coding and web development through a tailored course on Pluralsight learning platform. These new skills opened up massive opportunities for me in the global digital job market as I could do freelance IT jobs on the internet. I am finally able to buy enough food and rent a house of my own. Ultimately, I secured temporary IT jobs in two small organizations and co-founded a tech startup KaziWazi job-matching platform. In Swahili, “kazi wazi” means “open jobs”. As the name suggests, the platform aims to create an open job marketplace to connect youth to employment opportunities; it was recently featured in the third-largest newspaper in Kenya. Through this platform, I put the skills gained through EMPACT to best use by helping my peers from Kibera find their place in the world of work.

Building on knowledge acquired through EMPACT digital skills training, Ian Kimaru co-founded an online job matching platform for young people in Kenya. Photo: Kevin Ogesi

Linet Ngina Mutua, 25

The training allowed me to discover my true potential and believe in a bright future

I found out about EMPACT through the KNLS Kibera Library; the primary resource and education centre for Kibera’s youth. For many of us, EMPACT is more than a digital skills programme — it’s been a transformational experience in the first place. The training allowed me to discover my true potential and believe in a bright future. Today, I can code in Python and write for the web. With these new skills, I moved from poverty to self-sufficiency by earning money online as a freelancer. I am excited about the prospects the digital economy offers to young people of Kibera, and I am now optimistic about eliminating the poverty in our community for good.

From left to right: Lilian Simiyu, Linet Ngina Mutua, Kevin Ogesi and Innocent Wanyama are studying together in KNLS Library in Kibera. Photo: Kevin Ogesi

Kevin Ogesi, 20

I used to rely on word of mouth when looking for a job, which was more time-consuming than useful

Before EMPACT, I wasn’t quite interested in online platforms as they seemed to be intangible and far from daily realities of Kibera. I used to rely on word of mouth when looking for a job, which was more time-consuming than useful. EMPACT has completely changed my perspective on the world of work. I came to realize that digital platforms offer enormous possibilities for young people. On Pluralsight, I learned everything, from navigating the web to creating online content, to basic coding. On Fiverr, I make bids to get freelance jobs and earn income. Finally, I’m self-sufficient and have a clear vision of what the future could be like.

Innocent Wanyama, 35

I was an IT support specialist struggling to get a job

I am currently studying cloud technology and other in-demand Google developer skills. But EMPACT is not only about IT training — the programme also equipped me with essential soft skills. Before EMPACT, I was an IT support specialist struggling to get a job; I tried to apply for freelance jobs on Fiverr but never succeeded. EMPACT soft-skills and life-skills classes made me realize that communication and personal branding are equally important. Crucially, I learned how to write a compelling resume, interview with potential employers, and create successful gigs on freelance job platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Now I know how to market and sell my IT services in the online job market. But learning is a lifelong journey, and I would like to become better at what I do. I believe my perseverance and determination will help me find a path to a meaningful career.

Innocent Wanyama is currently studying cloud technology and other in-demand Google developer skills through EMPACT. Photo: Kevin Ogesi

Lilian Simiyu, 24

We work as a team and support each other, and I believe we can bring a positive change to our community

I used to be anxious and felt lost after my graduation from the United States International University-Africa. Joining EMPACT in January 2020 was a turning point in my life. Not only have I become tech-savvy and found well-paying freelance jobs, but I also made like-minded friends. I hope EMPACT will continue training more young people as it also helps us build our professional network and stay away from informal jobs. We work as a team and support each other, and I believe we can bring a positive change to our community.

About EMPACT

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