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Monthly Archives: May 2012

We are welcoming the following pilot testing sites to the g.Maarifa team: Soweto Academy in Langata, Nairobi; Foundation of Hope in Kianda, Nairobi; and Olympic Secondary School in Olympic, Nairobi. Pilot testing will start at the end of July/beginning of August. We are super stoked to work  with the youths and make an impact in their lives.

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May 15, 2012– Kibera Slums, Nairobi

We went old-school with our MVP as we tested it in the field today at Kibera. Due to the lack of electricity, projectors, electronic equipment, etc, we decided to draw out every screen on a scratchpad…at the end, we all got really good at drawing rectangles.

The participants loved the product and gave us great feedback on what the content should include and which internship placements they want the most. We even got a few of them to help us reduce texts since abbreviations in texts are done based on local pronunciations and something that the entire  g.Maarifa cannot do properly. We have taken their suggestions back to our developers and hope that we can build a workable prototype by the end of June. The attitude of the participants was also catching. They buzzed at the possibility of finally learning how to get a job and how to find a business that is lucrative to build. A surprising amount of them emphasized that they wanted to learn professional etiquette.

May 15, 2012– Kibera Slums, Nairobi

We went old-school with our MVP as we tested it in the field today at Kibera. Due to the lack of electricity, projectors, electronic equipment, etc, we decided to draw out every screen on a scratchpad…at the end, we all got really good at drawing rectangles.

The participants loved the product and gave us great feedback on what the content should include and which internship placements they want the most. We even got a few of them to help us reduce texts since abbreviations in texts are done based on local pronunciations and something that the entire  g.Maarifa cannot do properly. We have taken their suggestions back to our developers and hope that we can build a workable prototype by the end of June. The attitude of the participants was also catching. They buzzed at the possibility of finally learning how to get a job and how to find a business that is lucrative to build. A surprising amount of them emphasized that they wanted to learn professional etiquette.

Written by Evanna

April 20- May 5, 2012– Columbus, OH & Evanston, IL

g.Maarifa was featured at the Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship Summit at the Ohio State University Fisher School of Business on April 20th, 2012. I was also asked to speak on behalf of g.Maarifa. With almost 900 attendees, I got the message out about the role of social enterprises in East Africa and about the work we are doing at g.Maarifa. It was very humbling and truly an honor to be on the same stage as some of the other awesome and much more established entrepreneurs.

On May 5th, one day before my flight back to Nairobi, Innocent and I pitched g.Maarifa in front of six or seven judges at Northwestern Kellogg School of Business InNUvation Competition. Though we placed third, we received great feedback from the judges, all of whom are experienced entrepreneurs and/or seasoned investors. Oh yes, we also won the Sustainability Award…the prize money will go straight into g.Maarifa’s operations.

April 5, 2012– Ayany, Kibera slums, Nairobi

Calisto and Leah gathered 22 youths who have not completed secondary school and are unemployed. All of them have grown up in Kibera Slums. The majority of them are orphans who are responsible for feeding the mouths of six or seven of their sibilings and children. Despite their youth and education level, they are perceived to be the leaders of Ayany due to their leadership skills and their ability to convince others to stay out of trouble. “It is hard not to cave to social pressure,” one of them told me, “drugs can be bought easily for 100 bob [around USD $1.1], and people often get drunk by 8 AM in the morning. But we know that if we get trapped by drugs, alcohol, and other vices, our sibilings can no longer go to school and we can no longer feed them. We hustle the streets. Our little sisters, brothers, and children cannot.”

When I ask them how they manage to make a living if they do not have jobs, they said that creativity is the key. A lot of them go door to door and offer domestic services, sell arbitraged goods, and depend on NGOs. All want to get jobs, but 92% said that they do not know how. They do not know how to communicate strategically and do not have the skills to start their own businesses, which 60% said is their dream job. Others want to be social workers, journalists, radio talkshow hosts, engineers, etc.

After talking with them for one hour, we decided that they were the perfect participants for the initial pilot of our program. We pitched  the program and took their suggestions. They walked out of the room excited at the prospects of a job and determined to learn the curriculum. We walked out of the room determined to create a high quality product that will fulfill their needs and one with highest value proposition.