Recent graduates of the UN-HABITAT Environmental Entrepreneurship Programme are showing the potential of young people for leadership for urban development.
Meeting on the sidelines of UN-HABITAT’s 21st Governing Council, they launched a pilot programme this week under the auspices of the UN-HABITAT Global Partnership Initiative for Urban Youth Development in Africa. Now the results are in and the programme will be expanded within Kenya, to three other east African countries.
The Programme Manager, Mr. Karun Koernig, Environmental Youth Alliance said: “We train participants in entrepreneurial skills, but we consider ourselves successful if youth have managed to start or expand their businesses, if they have developed new livelihood skills that they did not have prior to training, or if they have developed their business plan and market research to launch readiness and are just in need of some extra funding.”
He cited a number of examples of young people who had completed the training. Martha, who signed up with the expectation of opening a stationary shop, was able to learn about the potential for increasing the market for her services, by extending her original service offering. She no longer is using her small amount of capital to rent space for a shop but is using these funds to travel to her clients and suppliers, reducing her costs significantly, while giving her clients a personal touch. She has managed to find herself not only small clients through the network she developed during the programme and among family and friends, but has also found bigger clients.
Another young woman, Sarah, joined the training programme hoping to start a cyber café, but realized during the training she needed the right skills. The programme managed to find her an internship within a cyber café and computer college where she could learn the necessary skills. This experience gave her a huge boost in confidence which has dramatically improved her self-confidence in business networking. With these new skills, she is now prepared and better able to realize her dream.
A young man called Munish joined realizing that that a major dilemma for low income families and people in slums is waste management and sanitation. He saw an opportunity for a business that deals with the removal of sewage. Through the training and ongoing support, he has managed to produce a viable business plan in which he can purchase a truck and a transportable pump and travel to the areas in need of his services. In Phase One of program he learned how to tell what makes a business viable through financial modeling. In the second the phase he will test the market for his idea, by securing one day’s worth of clients. The programme will help with him subsequent rental of his equipment for that day. This will allow him to see if the market for his service is available, and also gives him the chance to ascertain the costs of his venture on a small scale before investing a large amount of capital.
The Environmental Entrepreneurship Programme is in its final phase for the first round of 25 low-income Nairobi youth.
“It has been an amazing learning experience for both the young people themselves, UN-HABITAT and the programme managers,” said Mr. Koernig, “and the lessons learned will greatly improve the subsequent rounds of the programme.”