Youth Empowerment

Youth of 30 years and below constitute about 75% of East Africa’s population; forming the largest human resource. However, many of them who are productive and energetic remain unemployed and continue to suffer from Idleness and other social ills. They have remained on the periphery of their countries’ affairs and their status has not been accorded due recognition. This unemployment crisis requires change and transformation in order to give these youth an environment enabling them to pursue self-help initiatives.

Having had a rough start at life, dealing with the harsh aftermath of the Rwandese genocide, losing almost all members of his family and being forced to look for a job at the tender age of 14, Venuste got inspired to create a platform that would empower youth and open up opportunities for them.

In August 2010, Venuste in collaboration with fellow East African youth registered International Transformation Foundation (ITF), a youth nonprofit organization whose main focus is to provide youth self development programs encompassing leadership and entrepreneurship.

Over the past years ITF has gone a long way in transforming the lives of various youth through various youth to youth empowerment projects and also providing young people with volunteering opportunities that help them gain career experience.

Some of the youth projects Venuste runs through ITF are:

1. One Slum 100 Computers Project

Young people currently face a myriad of challenges from lack of employment, peer pressure, poverty and the daily struggles of life. Most of them deal with their issues through self destructive behavior.

With the advent of social media, Venuste observed an alternative addiction of youth– their obsession with technology, a craze that connects them with others rather than alienate them. That’s how he came up with the 1 slum 100 Computers project to harness the hope and stickiness of this connection.

Eastern Nairobi slums are deeply rooted with unemployment and insecurity issues due to the growing sense of alienation felt by young men and women dropping out of schools to join gangs, violence and drug addiction as part of their everyday life, for the future seem dark, poverty and unemployment being the norm.

The 1 slum 100 Computers project was inaugurated in Eastern Nairobi slums in November 2014 and it is a self sustainable project providing free computer training and entrepreneurship mentoring to disadvantaged youths in Eastern Nairobi slums and informal settlements, to be familiar enough with computer applications and design a profitable computer based business. At completion of the training and mentorship, loans them computers and other technological devices to help them set up a computer based business such as cybercafé, respectively to the business plan designed during the training/mentorship.

The project has had great success this far with 4 youth groups having successfully gone through the program this far. In 2014, 3 youth associations with 10 members each from 3 different slums in Eastern Nairobi received computer training to be familiar enough with computer applications and entrepreneurship mentorship to design profitable computer based business and in early 2015 they all received required funds to set up designed businesses. Excellent Youth Group from Kariobangi South is currently going through the program and they will receive funds to set up a computer based business when their training concludes.

With more job opportunities created by 1 slum 100 Computers project, Venuste is refashioning Eastern Nairobi slums into a powerhouse of opportunities providing jobs; opportunities to grow as well as curbing insecurity given that when youth in slums become skilled professional business owners they don’t feel the need to engage in immoral activities, like selling/taking drugs and robbery which often cause insecurity.

2. Jijenge Kijana Fund

Venuste came up with the idea to introduce a youth fund program at ITF in March, 2015. He got inspiration to start the fund after one of ITF’s members lost his job and ended up launching a small poultry farm in order to meet his needs. However, it was difficult for him to sustain the business due to lack of sufficient funds. That’s where the Jijenge Kijana Fund came in and helped his start up poultry business grow to a sustainable level and return profits.

Since then, this fund has been used as ITF member’s livelihood pathway offering microcredit and training to enable them to engage in productive and stable livelihoods gradually generating increased income to lift themselves out of poverty.

3. Leadership and Entrepreneurship Training

Through ITF, Venuste also conducts annual 'Leadership and Entrepreneurship Trainings' for ITF members and other youth. The trainings consist of ITF debate and Workshop forum. Hosted annually, the ITF debate is a competition and a concrete place for change and Transformation of youth through the exchange of ideas in a persuasive and argumentative manner. Conducted regularly in various institutions and communities around the world, the ITF Leadership & entrepreneurship forums impart youths with Leadership and entrepreneurship principles of accomplished men and women.

4. Building Empowering Environment for Youth Employability (BEE) project

Venuste’s latest youth project is the BEE (Building empowering environment for Youth employability) project which is collaboration with YouNet, an Italian based youth organization. The project aims to promote work based learning as a way for youth to gain work experience. The project gathers a global partnership from 13 different organizations from 4 different continents to tackle youth unemployment by bridging together educational sector, labour market, youths and public institutions and enabling young people to undergo work-based learning period. The BEE project is co-funded by Erasmus+ which is a program of the European Union.