Collins Odhiambo is a 21-year-old business man born and bred in Kibera urban slum in Nairobi. Despite graduating from high school, Collins was unable to secure employment and decided to participate in SHOFCO’s employability program to help him break into the workforce. Unemployment is rampant in the urban slums of Kenya. According to UNDP, youth unemployment approaches 60% in these communities, threatening an entire future of young people.
SHOFCO’s employability program trains youth on job readiness skills such as financial literacy, how to find a job, how to make a curriculum vitae, dos and don’ts when attending an interview, budgeting, saving culture, work ethics and work life balance.
Through SHOFCO’s training, Collins secured an internship at the Kibera Town Center. This included a monthly stipend of KSh750 (US$7.50). With this on the job experience, Collins decided to follow his dream to work for himself and joined SHOFCO’s entrepreneurship and business mentorship program.
“I wanted to be an entrepreneur and SHOFCO recruited me into the program. They mentored me on business idea generation and planning, saving, marketing and even pricing of goods,” Collins says.
With this experience and knowledge Collins started a peanut and sesame seed business. He drew on his savings to invest Ksh4,500 (US$45) to start his business. Collins buys raw peanuts and sesame seeds, roasts them and then sells to the community in Kibera’s Olympic village as well as at his university.
His marketing skills have enabled him to create a niche for his business at the university – he supplies the peanut products to students and lectures. He has been able to diversify his business and identify areas for increased efficiency to increase his profit. Collins has expanded his business and grinds peanuts to produce peanut butter.
To help save on overhead costs, he operates his business from his home and plans to invest those savings into business expansion. Today, he makes a daily profit of between Ksh 400-800 (US$4 – 8) and uses that income to meet his basic needs, contribute to his family’s rent and pay his schooling fees.
Apart from operating his business, Collins is mentoring other youth on entrepreneurship. Many young people in the community have seen his business grow and succeed and now see him as a mentor.
Collins is already looking toward the future of his business and is excited to expand: “I am trying to save some money to enable me to buy some machines and get a place where I will do my business. I also plan to employ a few people to help me because I have a lot to do now.”