Fresh Life Tackles Youth Unemployment in Nairobi
Joseph Ochieng’, fondly known as ‘Coaches Ochi’ by friends and family, is a successful businessman who runs a barber shop and 10 Fresh Life Toilets in Muthurwa area– a busy market located southeast of Nairobi.
The father of one is a happy man, his Fresh Life business is doing well and he can comfortably take care of his young family. However, when he started out, things were different. Joseph was a very frustrated young man who had just completed his university studies and no job was forthcoming. His parents had struggled to see him through school and he wanted to earn some money so that he could take care of them. Having submitted hundreds of unsuccessful application letters to prospective employers, Joseph began working manual jobs to survive.
Joseph’s story is not unique; Kenya’s unemployment rate stands at 40% with the majority of unemployed persons being the youth between the ages of 15 and 34. Joblessness, especially among the energetic and innovative youth, is a drag on the Kenyan economy because it forces unemployed adults to depend on the working class, stretches family resources and consumes savings for future investments. Having been unemployed for a long time, Joseph understands these implications all too well. He knows many young people in his community who have resorted to crime, “I sympathize with them because I remember that frustration; I know how it feels,” he says.
The burgeoning population in cities exacerbates the already dire situation. Kenya’s rapidly urbanizing population stands at 12 million people today and is set to double by the year 2050. Every year throngs of young people from the rural areas come into the city to look for jobs. One way to lessen the unemployment burden in Kenya is to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs and give them the skill sets they need to thrive. Joseph saved up some money from the manual jobs he had engaged in and set up a small barber shop. It is while running his barber shop that he met Victor who introduced him to the Fresh Life movement. Joseph began by installing one Fresh Life unit in 2012.
The mandatory training provided to all Fresh Life Operators who join the network equipped Joseph with the necessary skills to thrive and expand his business. When his businesses began to flourish, he felt a renewed sense of purpose. He decided to invest in additional Fresh Life units to ensure his financial security. Joseph has since employed an additional six young men – Fresh Life attendants – all of whom are now earning an income and supporting their families. His dream is that all of the young people in his community have a decent future and one sure way of achieving this is linking them to opportunities such as Fresh Life. “When I started getting profits from my Fresh Life business, my life began to change. The income has made it possible for me to take care of my family and the future looks promising,” he says with a smile.
Victor and Joseph own 10 Fresh Life Toilets each. They are part of 568 Fresh Life Operators who have created an additional 180 jobs in the communities we serve. Overall, Sanergy has created over 900 jobs.