In 2021, Friends of Ngong Road conducted a survey of our first 113 alumni and learned that 80% of alumni had one or more jobs between May 2020 – May 2021. This was an especially challenging time for employment due to the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on the Kenyan economy. While encouraging to learn such a high percentage of alumni had had jobs, at the time of the survey, only 46% of respondents were employed. Among those employed 76% had a job in the formal economy. Among the unemployed, 90% had worked in the informal economy, and when COVID hit, their work disappeared.
The new emphasis on employment, an updated mission statement
These results led our board of directors to conclude we must do better. Since our inception, we have understood that Kenya’s formal economy has very high unemployment levels (about 40%) and that this last stage of life transformation, employment, would be the most challenging. We have now made “employment” a fourth program pillar in our overall strategy (along with Education, Student Health & Well-Being, and Supportive Community) and updated our mission statement to reflect our increased focus on helping graduates get and keep a job. Our revised mission statement is:
We empower Nairobi children living in poverty to transform their lives through education and support, leading to employment.
Programs to support employment objective
We currently have several initiatives in place or in development that support our goal of ensuring 75% of the alumni are employed within six months of graduation. Some of these programs begin in high schools, such as Life Skills training and learning about career options. Other programs are focused on high school and post-secondary graduates, including:
- Job placement through the support of the Kenyan Board of Directors who make referrals to organizations within their network.
- Karibu Loo Associate program– Karibu Loo (KL) is a portable sanitation business (owned by FoNR) that hires our graduates as part-time associates to help with the business’s operations, learning organization skills, time management, and working as part of a team. Karibu Loo has also hired graduates for full-time roles in marketing and operations. Since its inception, more than 120 graduates have been employed by KL.
- Sales Academy – an intensive two-month sales training and six-month paid internship through a partnership with Yusudi Sales Academy. Two students will join this program in April as a pilot to see how successful it will be.
- TechMates Program – A tech internship program where STEM Graduates are taken through an “on-the-job training” on digital marketing, website development, and management using WordPress, Google Ads, as well as advanced programming. The interns are later linked with external companies for contract jobs.
- Entrepreneurship training – Targeting alumni who are interested in starting a small enterprise by providing basic business creation training and linking them to funding opportunities.
Elsewhere in this newsletter, you will find more information about the TechMates Program. In the next five years, we expect to launch more initiatives focused on helping graduates get jobs. We know that when you begin life in extreme poverty the only way your life is truly transformed is if you get (and keep) a job.