Empowering Viwandani’s Youth Through Fresh Life – Martin’s Story
This post was suggested by Fresh Life credit officer Haron Muciu. Haron is a member of Team Freshi, a group dedicated to sharing stories that highlight the impact of Sanergy and Fresh Life in the communities we serve.
Martin Musau was raised in a family where education was highly encouraged. During high school, however, Martin made friends with the wrong crowd, and he dropped out of school during Form Two when he was 15 years old. As he recalls, it was the beginning of a tough life. “At the time I dropped out of school, I was living with my mother in Machakos. I had to move to Nairobi and begin learning how to fend for myself,” he says.
When he arrived in Nairobi, his father John Muathe, a small-scale businessman, hosted him at one of his rental units in the Viwandani area of Mukuru. Because Martin lacked skills and experience, he had trouble finding a decent job, and he often depended on his father for support.
To learn a useful skill, Martin decided that he wanted to drive. “Growing up, anyone seen driving a car was considered cool, and because I wanted to be cool, I asked my father to send me to driving school,” he says. Thanks to his father, he excelled in driving school, and he now works as a driver for a prominent businessman in Nairobi.
On the side, Martin and his father operate two commercial Fresh Life Toilets in Viwandani’s Paradise neighborhood. “My neighbor John Kitetu inspired me to join the network. I admired the cleanliness of his toilet and his professionalism in serving customers,” recalls Martin.
His father’s rental units did not have toilet facilities, and Martin knew he would have a consistent customer base. “Through joining Fresh Life, I am able to make additional income, while also providing a needed service to my community,” beams Martin.
While Martin has been able to find success as a businessman, others haven’t been so fortunate: “A lot of my friends are in jail for crimes while others relocated to the village to eke out a living,” he says.
Martin makes a point of helping at-risk youth by offering them work at his Fresh Life Toilets. “My father often manages the Fresh Life Toilet on my behalf. When he is not at the premises, he hires youths in our neighborhood to help run the business,” says Martin. In addition, he introduces them to other Fresh Life Operators in need of toilet attendants. This has helped them earn enough to get by and not depend on crime to survive.
Providing hygienic sanitation to his neighbors has been eye opening for Martin and other youths in Viwandani. While it has proven to be a lucrative business, it has also taught them the need to maintain a clean environment.
This year, Martin and his father have been participating in a pilot program to see what incentivizes toilet usage; as a result of this pilot, each toilet is often used more than 100 times per day. “At our Fresh Life Toilets, even people who used to poop in the open are now willing to spend 5 shillings to use the toilet,” says Martin. The positive reception to these facilities in the area has made it possible to promote hygiene while running a successful enterprise. On a good day, Martin earns up to 6 USD per toilet per day.
This is just the beginning of Martin’s entrepreneurial journey. He hopes to expand his business empire by putting up several hairdressing stalls. Martin is a diligent young leader whose example inspires many other youths in the community. This savvy 23-year-old businessman is confident that taking one step at a time will help him to achieve all he has desired in life!