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‘Business Now Flows In My Blood’ – The Story Of The ‘Ghetto Guy’

He calls Himself a ‘ghetto guy’. As we share a light moment, he informs me that even his parents wonder how he survives in the city of Nairobi, leave alone being in the slum. He has embraced the hard life of Kiambiu and understands what it is like to live in a slum. Of late, he is managing it better. Here he tells us how he does that…

 

Meet Denis Odhiambo. After completing his high school education, he found himself in Kiambiu operating a movie shop that wasn’t doing very well. “There is this day when my friend came and told me about a certain training in Kiambiu, and the following session I accompanied him. I have never regretted that move.” explains Denis with a broad smile. He attended the entrepreneurship trainings by The Youth Banner, and quickly became the life of the class, engaging facilitators with fascinating, and sometimes hard questions. He was hungry for knowledge.

 

Asked about what he had to say about the training, Denis, with a youthful pose and hands in his jeans’ pockets said, “Cool training. I walk and feel like business flows in my blood. I can now easily identify and take advantage of a business opportunity. And,..” he adds, “…now I manage my business better in terms of purchases. Sales have increased and I have added another computer.” he concludes.

 

Despite a myriad of challenges of funding and difficulties in getting loans, this young man appreciates the fact that he may not be where he wants to be, but he is definitely not where he was before the training.

 

As Denis pulls his seat after reflecting on his progress after the training, he shoots up again excitedly, “Hio Cert pia maze, besides the skills I acquired, inasaidia sana.” (that certificate guys, besides the skills I acquired is helping a lot). He offered an explanation, “The other day I was called for an interview at Orange Kenya at the customer call center, thanks to the skills I acquired on customer care and a certificate to show, I got a one month contract with Orange. I am currently working there.”

 

Success told by the successful has a way of sinking deep into the hearts of the listeners. And there was some reflective silence in the room.

 

I talked to Denis later on about his experience at the customer call center. “I have gotten so used to answering customers’ calls that I find myself answering my mum’s calls, ‘My name is Denis Odhiambo from Orange, how may I help you?’” He left me in stitches.

 

They say an idle mind is the devils workshop, Denis is busy and so his mind is no workshop of evil. He is busy building Kiambiu community, not breaking it

From Breaking Ethnic Barriers To Building Ethical Businesses

Breaking Barriers, Building Ethical Businesses

He was the first guy seated in the boardroom when my friends and I arrived for a reflection session. He wore a blue cap, a checked short sleeved shirt, blue jeans and a calmly persona. Later, he told a catching story on breaking barriers, here is his story…

 

Kamau Julius knows from experience what negative ethnicity can do. The 2007/8 Post Election Violence (P.E.V) left Kiambiu segmented into sections of people of a given ethnic group. The boundaries were NOT to be crossed. The consequences for doing so at times, were fatal. People kept to their section, bitter and ready to fight. This was to end when CHF visited the area and helped form Kiambiu Youth for Peace and development network (KYPDN), and trained ten cohesion champions. Julius was one of them. Soon, there was peace in Kiambiu. But…

 

Julius, when giving his story poses a question, “What next after peace?” He explained that some people survived and thrived on the chaotic situation but when peace was restored in Kiambiu, their empty stomachs didn’t give them peace. “Something needed to be done and The Youth Banner brought in the desperately needed lifeline.” BEEP (Banner Economic Empowerment Program), is what Julius was talking about.

 

With encouragement from k3, a program manager from The Youth Banner, Julius rarely missed classes.

 

“Nilikua nafanya kazi kijuakali, sikujua eti kuna doo yangu na ya bizna” (I was going about my business unprofessionally; I didn’t know the difference between my money and business money). He comments about himself before the BEEP Classes. Afterwards, his business of selling movies, USB, memory cards and songs began to thrive so much that when he applied for a loan from The Youth Banner to boost his business, he got a higher amount than he thought he qualified. With the loan of Ksh 24,000/= he added his savings and this gave his business the much needed boost including buying a computer. He would later clear the loan and qualify for another loan of Ksh 30,000/=. He has since expanded his business. Adjacent to the movie shop, Julius has opened an electronics shop in which he has hired someone to operate as he stays back at the movie business, which interests him more.

 

Julius talks about the two major skills he lacked before training:

  1. A saving culture
  2. Record keeping, and offers to explain further on the records, “I would buy, sell, and would never know what brought in what. I didn’t know what was out of stock, what was bringing in more profits, but,” he concludes, “…I know better now.”

…AND SO DO THE PEOPLE OF KIAMBIU

What is the Greatest Resource?

Daniel Osumba told his story in many ways. He donned a yellow T-Shirt written ‘…it is my responsibility’. There was this serious look about him. Everyone seemed to listen to him in those conversations before the formal reflection session. As a Zetech University student taking a diploma in community development, one would wonder why he went for the entrepreneurship training. When it was time to tell his story, I listened…

 

“…these trainings helped me a lot. I was able to open my own hotel business, something I wasn’t able to do with my continuing college education only.” And yes, to confirm how this knowledge had transformed him into a skillful entrepreneur, he was at some point forced to leave his business in the watch of someone else who hadn’t been trained and the budding business collapsed.

One begins to appreciate the value upon seeing that they can succeed where others fail. “We really appreciate what you people are doing.” he said in reference to the team of CHF and The Youth Banner which had convened this reflection session.

 

Armed with the arsenal of economic empowerment, Daniel is fighting a good fight against community conflicts, poverty and ignorance. I caught up with him later after the reflection session and I asked him what his best arrows in his quiver were.

He didn’t bat an eyelid. “I am using the economic empowerment slogan to pass the knowledge I acquired to help others in my community to become entrepreneurs too. I speak to business people, merry-go-round women groups, chamas, especially Canaan and Luvenant Self Help Groups.”

 

He highlights three things that are helping those that he trains

  1. Cultivating a saving culture
  2. How to write a business plan
  • Resource mobilization.

 

“All these things, I learnt from The Youth Banner trainings.” he says

 

Daniel is young and energetic, just like most young people in this community, some of whom engage in petty and sometimes violent crimes, besides being used by rogue politicians to fight for their personal gains. But he is different. He has been empowered to use his energy for his good, and he is using that to make his community better.

The Greatest Resource Is Human Resource… Taking Responsibility

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