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Young entrepreneurs gain life-changing skills

Thirty youths from Laikipia County have graduated from a three-month training on various courses that will equip them with skills to start income-generating ventures in the area.

The 30 who included 11 males and 19 females hailed from Lower Naibunga area in Laikipia North sub-county and were trained in tailoring and dressmaking, hairdressing and beauty therapy, and motorcycle mechanics. The youth were also gifted tools to help them start their ventures upon graduating.

The training dubbed ‘Ujuzi Manyattani’ is part of a continuous exercise facilitated by Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) and USAID in a bid to empower rural communities with limited access to quality education to gain economic skills to sustain their livelihoods.

Ujuzi Manyattani is a mobile vocational training model that supports youth and women who ordinarily are kept out of formal learning institutions due to lack of literacy, distance from educational centres, and lifestyle. Most young men are mainly entrusted with providing labour (herding) and homestead security but have limited economic skills and low literacy levels. The program seeks to equip them with opportunities to diversify their livelihoods and reduce continued poverty and conflict cycles,” NRT Laikipia County director Jackeline Nalenoi said during the graduation on Wednesday at Naibunga conservancy.

Nalenoi added that Sh. 100,000 was used to train each student during the three-month period they were in class.

Ujuzi Manyattani coordinator for the county Peter Nguno said that the programme targets illiterate youth from pastoralist communities and those with limited literacy skills for the training to economically empower them from engaging in vices such as cattle rustling or early marriages.

“We are going to give them start-up tool kits so that they can start their businesses immediately and we have also incorporated a business training module so that we train them on how to manage and run their startups successfully.

Nguno revealed that since the inception of the progamme in 2019, 754 youth from seven counties of West Pokot, Baringo, Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Garissa, and Laikipia had been trained on various economic venture courses.

“We also monitor the progress of their ventures through regular visits to their business where we also mentor and advise them on emerging business trends,” Nguno said.

He added that the programme has had a huge impact in pastoralist areas by transforming young morans who engage in cattle rustling and banditry while their female counterparts are married off at an early age to have a different approach to life by engaging in entrepreneurship.

“Some of our trainees under this programme are doing well in business and have become employers. We have a lady who opened a dressmaking shop in Isiolo County and has now employed four people as her venture expands,” Nguno said.

Seneto Meshami 26, who trained in tailoring and dressmaking said she was looking forward to changing her life and that of her two children by starting a business at Kimanjo trading centre near her home.

“I know with the skills I have earned from this training I will be able to provide for my young children and lead a decent life,” said the single mother of two.

Jackson Saitoti 27, who trained in motorcycle mechanics said he was glad that after the skills he had acquired he would start an income-generating venture rather than being employed as a herder as has been the case since he was 12 years.

“I am not looking back, I have the skills and the right tools to work,” an elated Saitoti said.

Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu who also graced the ceremony said that his administration would put up a vocational institute at Kimanjo to train semi-illiterate youth mostly from the pastoral communities to enable them engage in life-supporting economic ventures.

“Empowering these young men and women economically, some who have never gone to school is very transformative, and will go a long way in transforming the lifestyles of pastoral communities in Laikipia and my government will work very closely with the facilitators to assist even more youth,” Governor Irungu said.

By Martin Munyi

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