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Transforming lives through the power of Kazi Mtaani in Elgeyo Marakwet

Abraham Kipchirchir from Kapsio village of Keiyo North Sub County had dropped out of college at Sigalagala polytechnic where he was taking a diploma in automotive engineering which was being sponsored by the National Youth service in 2019.

This, Kipchirchir says was after he failed in two units and according to the NYS regulations, if one is referred, then the trainee is expected to fund his/her studies. Coming from a humble family, Kipchirchir couldn’t go back to his parents to fund his education.

“As I was pondering on what to do, the Kazi Mtaani program phase II was announced by the national government in July 2020 and as luck would have it I was recruited as a supervisor,” said Kipchirchir.

Being a supervisor meant that he would work throughout as opposed to the other youths who were working on a shift of two weeks then they rest as another group takes over. “This could not have come at a better time, I was earning Sh11, 000 per month and since I was working near home, I would save Sh5, 000 every month,” he said.

The youth says for the 11 months he worked he managed to save Sh50, 000, funds which enabled him to pay for the two units he had been referred at a cost of Sh4, 500 each.

“On top of that, I paid for the accommodation and food at Sh10, 000 each for the period I was there. I graduated two weeks ago which would not have been possible were it not for the Kazi Mtaani program,” he said.

Kipchirchir who has been recruited in the Kazi Mtaani phase III hopes to save enough to buy a tool box which he said costs Sh15, 000 which will enable him take off as he dreams to have his own garage in future, and eventually be able to start a vehicle spare shop in Iten.

Twenty-five-year-old Faith Jepkoech from Kamariny is another youth who has benefitted from the program. Jepkoech from Kapsio village started a hawking business where she sells sweets, sodas and biscuits in schools whenever there is a function.

“When I received my cash, I took Sh2, 000 which I used to start the business. In my first attempt, I sold everything which gave me the morale to invest more,” she narrated to the press.

Jepkoech didn’t look back and kept on expanding her business. To do this, she took the contacts of all watchmen and some of the teachers in the various schools within Keiyo North.

“Whenever there is an Annual General Meeting, graduations, or any other function in a school, they make sure they inform me in advance thus I buy all I need ready for the function,” she said.

Since there are times when there is more than one school having a function, Jepkoech also funded her sister to start the same business.

The proceeds from her hawking business has enabled her to start a kiosk next to her home where she sells horticultural products to keep her going and ensure that her business does not collapse as she awaits for another school function.

One of her major achievements from the business is assisting in the completion of their family house something she says she is so proud of.

“My brother was constructing a house for my mum and I assisted him in buying cement for the floor, windows and door grills,” she said.

As the 3rd phase gets underway, the youth hopes to buy an umbrella which will shelter her and her products from the vagaries of the weather as she does her business.

Saying that she loves cooking which she does at a fee whenever there is an occasion within the neighborhood, Jepkoech hopes she can save enough to undertake a catering course.

The two youths are part of the success stories of the Kazi Mtaani phase two program where the national government spent sh.87 million in the county to spur development at the local level following the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The Elgeyo Marakwet county commissioner John Korir who was speaking during the launch of the Kazi Mtaani phase III programme said he hoped the same will be replicated using the Sh66 million the national government will spend on the programme this year.

The CC said a total of 4,223 youths will be engaged in the program which will run from June to August this year.

Korir called on the youths to use the funds to transform the county’s economy by starting businesses however small and advised them against using the money to engage in beer drinking or other vices.

He said this time the programme had been expanded to cover the whole county saying he hoped at least all the villages in the county will be represented

He said the programme will also ensure that the youths are kept busy thus preventing them from being used in illegal activities during the current electioneering period.

Korir said while they are targeting youths aged between 18-35 years, special consideration was being given to women and people with disabilities saying those will have no age limit as long as one is above 18 years.

By Alice Wanjiru

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