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Nyahururu Youth’s Hand Washing and Tractor Innovations

Big dreams that linger in young minds can be a very frustrating experience.

The agony grows when the young person’s dream is considered out of reach, with poverty dampening the dreams and ensuring no resources are available to support the “weird nightmare”.

Many would result to drug abuse and alcoholism to fill the void of unmet desire, but it remains just that, a dream that lingers with regrets.

Young and restless, this is what defined Joseph Nderitu’ s life 10 years ago. Having dropped from Nyandarua’s Mukungi Secondary school due to lack of tuition fees, he left home for a rich man’s farm in Mukurweini, Nyeri County, in search for menial jobs, so as to fend for his three siblings who looked to him for support as his parents could not afford school fees for them.

“I was employed as a farmhand but I sneaked out every afternoon to pursue a welding course at a nearby trading centre.

“I initially thought of undertaking a course in mechanics but I felt that was something I knew and would not waste money on,” Nderitu starts us off when we visit his Nyahururu based Ndesh Engineering hub.

The form one dropout was not going to waste money on what he would learn by observing. His dream of manufacturing Agricultural machinery was a nightmare he would not want to carry all his life. He therefore opted to take welding that would help him achieve his goals someday.

“I make metallic doors and windows for sale in addition to welding services that I offer. The skills have come in handy in making hand washing stands that are now on high demand to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Young Innovator Joseph Nderitu, 22, possess for a picture outside his Nyahururu based Ndesh Engineering hub.Photo by Anne Sabuni.

He displays a three and a half feet tall metallic stand, complete with pedals that have been fitted with levers to allow for water and liquid soap dispensing without the user touching the taps.

“A piece goes for Sh8, 500, earning me about Sh2, 000 in profit on a good sale. I have several orders that are pending as the specific tap that I use on the plastic containers that hold water, are out of stock around Nyahururu town. I have to order them from Nakuru or Nairobi and wait.

The 28-year-old walks us back his trail of life, sleepless nights and the dream of manufacturing his own tractor and farm equipment was stuck on his mind.

He bought any piece of scrap metal that came his way using his meagre income, with the hope that he would assemble a tractor.

“At 18, I embarked on my first project, the tractor. I bought a faulty gearbox and mended it single handedly without any lessons on motor vehicles.

“An old man once stopped at my shop and urged me to drop my weird dream as it would not yield. I chose to ignore him.

“My peers always teased me branding me mtu wa bangi (high on cannabis sativa) but my determination kept me going,” laughs off the father of one.

His younger brother Sam Njuguna, his biggest supporter, hopes onto a skeleton of a small tractor, fully fitted with an engine, gears and accessories. He turns it on, makes a U-turn and drives off, to our disbelief.

“I worked on its plough and trailer first, before I added a maize sheller that kept me out of the workshop last harvest season.

“I am also working towards fitting it with a sprayer that will come in handy in applying pesticides on wheat and potatoes that grow well here. The potatoes planter is also in the offing,” he scratches his head, sinking into thoughts as if to signal a major challenge.

Long procedures in accessing Uwezo Funds and the need to be in a group to benefit have limited his access to the soft loans. His plans are to try-out the newly rolled Credit Guarantee Scheme in Laikipia County that aims to formalize most businesses and give them a basis for growth and access to commercial loans.

“Some loan officers have had to disqualify my applications for funds by just looking at me without even gauging my ability to pay,” he mutters, noting that he had spent about Sh400, 000 on the tractor alone so far, and needed about the same amount to give it a finish and for its implements.

He adds, “I acquired most of the parts from scrap metals and this sometimes compromises on their strength to sustain the tractor. I have to put in a lot of brainwork to figure out the angles with which I have to position some parts for better and stronger results.

To his fellow youths, he says, “Don’t despise your dreams, start small and be consistent. Never waste time trying to convince others of what you want to venture in, no one will understand and they will discourage you.”

By Anne Sabuni

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