Students who won’t have to look for work

Courtesy of The Standard

The thought of completing university studies and remaining jobless for years can be daunting. Worse is to imagine being caught in a situation where your guardians start to show signs that they are not able to continue accommodating you.

For three friends and now comrades at the University of Nairobi, such a possibility has long been overtaken by the events they initiated a few years back.

Their bigger concern now is how to keep their business afloat, expand market share, and while at it, earn good grades at the end of their studies.
At only age 23 and still students, the three run a company that presently employs eight people.

It was in March 2013, and with about Sh200,000, that Kelvin Obade, Vian Khaoya, and Thadeus Mwalo, currently in their fourth year and studying electrical engineering, Bachelor of Commerce, and actuarial science respectively, registered a car tracking company and called it Techstation.

“We barely had the capital to start the company, but our self-drive and personal contributions, with a little help from relatives, put us on the path to where we are now,” says Mwalo, the company’s managing director.

Techstation, they say, now has an estimated worth of about Sh10 million.

Their idea of starting the car tracking company was hatched in 2007 after they emerged tops in the Kenya Science Congress — an innovations contest for students — while in Form Three at Friends School Kamusinga in Bungoma County.

The company may have grown fast, but the journey has not always been rosy, the three confess. The directors have had to deal with challenges through sweat and creativity.

“Follow your dreams and believe in yourself,” Khaoya, the company’s head of research and development, advises. “Challenges are there, but one has to overcome them in order to achieve a goal.”

The little funds they had and the desire for independence inspired the three young men to employ the skills learnt in the lecture halls to earn the desirable extra coin. As Obade puts it, theirs is a partnership not only of interest, but also of intelligence.

Pursuing a similar path is Lone Felix, a law student and student leader at Kenyatta University. For him, a desire to instil leadership skills in his colleagues drove him to start ADDO Africa, a foundation that links students with leadership training programmes.

Felix, the initiator of the idea, partnered with six other students at his university to contribute personal resources to set up the foundation. The organisation has since trained 400 club leaders from six universities across the country.

“It is hard to get someone to believe in you and believe for you. We founded ADDO to help young leaders establish their ultimate potential from an early stage,” says Felix.

DEVELOP ENTREPRENEURAL SKILLS

Other than training leaders, ADDO Africa helps develop entrepreneurial skills among students.

“We not only train leaders, but urge the students, through their different clubs, to venture into business and shift their minds from seeking jobs,” Felix continues.

To enable students to get the capital to start businesses, ADDO Africa has partnered with Nestle Equatorial Africa to run a competitive entrepreneurship programme in which university students run small-scale coffee businesses in their respective clubs.

The leaders of the winning club are rewarded with internship programmes in various companies.

Constance Kazungu, 21, is yet another student who is already actively at work through a charitable outfit she formed in 2011. Besides studying actuarial science at the University of Nairobi, she runs Change a Life Kenya.

The organisation, which she started using her loan money from the Higher Education Loans Board and pocket money from her parents, buys medicine and food for disadvantaged children. She also helps pay their school fees.

Kazungu runs the non-profit organisation with a friend from university. She says a persistent urge to help the less fortunate in society motivated them to start the initiative. Presently, the duo supports Good Samaritan children’s home in Nairobi. The organisation also supports internally displaced persons.

Kazungu considers this to be her calling, so she will not have to worry about looking for a job.

“Most people chase jobs for money, while they should do what they love,” she reasons.

 

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