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Community REcovery Achieved Through Entrepreneurism (CREATE) for people living serious mental illness (PWSMI) in Kenya.

To support sustainability and expansion of an innovative community based rehabilitation strategy for people with SMI in Machakos, Kenya.

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What problem does your idea solve?

People with serious mental illness (SMI), living in lower-resource settings like Kenya face high rates of unemployment and social exclusion but lack opportunities for capacity building and uptake in psychosocial rehabilitation (PSR) approaches and supported employment opportunities. To close this “treatment gap” and reduce the burden of SMI, we need to design and implement solutions that reflect the available local resources and address the socio-cultural context including poverty and stigma.

Explain your idea

The CREATE strategy promotes the rehabilitation and recovery from SMI by: (i) Providing opportunities for income generation and meaningful roles through employment - CREATE strategy introduced a work integration social enterprise (WISE) model which is a community commercial enterprise that addresses labor market and social exclusion issues experienced by people with SMI and (ii) Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR) – The 260-page CREATE PSR Toolkit consists of best practices in psychoeducation and PSR aimed at helping WISE employees with SMI to develop the knowledge, skills and supports to manage their SMI successfully and engage in meaningful social and occupational activities. Through pilot funding from Grand Challenges Canada (October 2014 – June 2016), the CREATE proof of concept was piloted in Machakos Town, Kenya. Local stakeholders were a crucial element in WISE business idea generation and contextualization of the PSR Toolkit. This pilot phase resulted in establishment of a print shop named “Point Tech Solutions” & offered employment to 7 people with SMI and the contextualization & piloting of PSR best practices in a group setting for the employees. Currently, the WISE has 2 full time and 5 casual/needs basis workers. The successful pilot phase results confirmed viability & acceptance of a WISE model for people with SMI. The WISE model is in its critical growth phase & requires a lot of support to cement its growth, sustainability and scalability components.

Who benefits?

Direct beneficiaries include: 10-12 People with SMI (7 current WISE employees and 3-5 new recruits) through opportunity to work and gain PSR skills. Care-givers/family members (20) of people with SMI will benefit from reduced financial burden and physical care of their loved ones and the larger community will improve their understanding of mental illness and the potential for recovery through social interactions with WISE employees with SMI.

How is your idea unique?

The CREATE strategy introduces a unique approach to mental health recovery in resource limited settings through the combination of the work integration social enterprise model and with PSR practices and principles. The results from the CREATE pilot study suggests improved health and social outcomes for people with SMI, enhanced community interactions, improved family relations and reduced overall burden on the caregivers. However, the pilot time-period was not sufficient to ensure testing of the designed systems, structures and business operations to ensure long-term sustainability. Given an opportunity to enhance this pilot model, CREATE can be scaled in Machakos and other contexts as a model of enhancing recovery from serious mental illness, create active, visible channels to advocate for equal opportunities for people living with SMI, provide information on mental health illness to reduce stigma and overall reduction of the mental health treatment gap in similar settings.

Tell us more about you

CREATE Kenya is a study partnership between Africa Mental Health Foundation ( and several Canadian universities. Point Tech Solutions is a registered limited company WISE & provides opportunities for work for people with SMI and foster a peer support culture based on PSR Toolkit components. The CREATE study team provides advisory, monitoring, evaluating, capacity building and business support to Point Tech Solutions.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

CREATE strategy seeks to provide stable employment opportunities for people with SMI. Following the pilot phase, these gaps need to be addressed: 1. Self-sustainability– What strategies can we adopt to ensure that enterprises established under the WISE model are self-sustaining and contribute to local policies? 2. Strategies ensuring that the WISE model continuously creates opportunities for people with SMI and equips current employees for greater opportunities beyond the WISE. 3. Development of a business model that outlines the value and contribution of employment and PSR qualities of the WISE model? I.e. one that capitalizes on the expertise of people with lived experience of SMI as PSR toolkit facilitators, advocates, educators etc

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Kenya

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • I've worked in a sector related to my idea for more than a year.

Organizational Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Idea Maturity

  • Early Growth/Roll-out/Scaling: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

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