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The Mekatilili Foondi Design Program

To inspire youth to become innovators by equipping them with the necessary technical and business skills to solve challenges they encounter.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

The Design Program is an educational platform geared towards providing youth with a knowledge-sharing setting to explore product development through design thinking. In this way, they can be inspired to undertake Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs with the aim of becoming innovators who build solutions with their local context in mind. Every year in Kenya, approximately 500,000 (Standard Digital - Kenya) students graduate high school, many full of energy and excitement about the next chapter of their young adult lives. For students undertaking tertiary level education in Kenya, the transition period between high school and university is approximately four to eight months for self-sponsored students, and approximately 18 months for government-sponsored students. During this period, many high school graduates seek avenues to stay mentally engaged and leverage their free time to learn as many essential skills that would better position them for internship opportunities while in university, and employment thereafter. The most popular options among youth include learning a new language, and/or enrolling in accounting or computer courses that take between two to three months to complete. Often, these classes take on average three hours a day, leaving the rest of the day open to other preferred activities. Broadly, this presents a closed-box learning challenge where students are faced with limited options on courses they undertake, more s

WHO BENEFITS?

The Mekatilili Foondi Design Program is aimed at recent high school graduates between the ages of 17-20 in their transition period between high school and university. Given the transition period between high school and university in Kenya is generally four to 18 months, this time presents a great opportunity to introduce these young adults to STEM programs. In this way, they will be inspired to explore entrepreneurship and innovation by developing their own products and solutions.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Foondi Workshops and the Mekatilili Program are Kenyan based ventures that have partnered to develop the Design Program. Our partnership is aimed at delivering design, business and technical skills to young Africans. This way, we hope to inspire young people to be creative problem solvers.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya
  • Uganda

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 over a year

Foondi Workshops is an African product design and technology company that uses collaborative design workshops with the aim of capacity building and skills sharing. Foondi creates a platform for problem setting, designing, and prototyping entrepreneurial-based ventures. In this way, young innovators in Africa are nurtured in skills development and encouraged to build solutions that target emerging markets and under-served communities in Africa. Since 2014, we have run over 15 programs in Kenya, Uganda and Burundi, working with local institutional partners in the education sector so as to engage young people with critical problem-solving skills aimed at using technology to design and develop tangible solutions.

Mekatilili Program holds workshops in various girls’ high schools in Kenya using a dynamic and hands-on curriculum.  The program exposes its participants to science, human centred design, and engineering and also serves as a way to encourage them to be young, budding changemakers in their communities. Presently, the program has worked with close to 100 girls and plans to reach over 500 more by the end of next year.

Our goal is to leverage the work, insights and key learnings from both Foondi Workshops and the Mekatilili Program to create an interactive, educational platform. Based on our experience, we are motivated and inspired by the potential impact of engaging young people in critical problem solving as well as the vast opportunities that lie often untapped in the creation of entrepreneurial ventures from and by young people.

The Design Program aims to utilize the free time that recent high school graduates have by engaging them in design and innovation courses to empower them with the skills to create technological solutions in their communities.

Students who enroll in the program will be taken through a heuristic curriculum that is intended to build not only their design and engineering skills but also their entrepreneurial skills.

Courses offered include:

  1. Design Thinking

Objective: To help students understand and develop creative ways to solve a specific issue, while keeping the end user in mind.


  1. Entrepreneurship

Objective: To introduce the basic concepts of creating and presenting a business plan that clearly articulates a proposed solution


  1. Behaviorally Informed Design

Objective: To teach students the strategies for designing and implementing effective change programs for promoting environmental sustainability


  1. Programming (Elective)

Objective: To learn the basics of programming in C++ and Python needed to develop simple computer programs as well as control electronics.


  1. Physical Computing (Elective)

Objective: Students learn how to use basic electronics and how to program sensors and motors to create interactive projects. We'll then learn how to use this to build wearable tech using electronics.


  1. Build it (Elective)

Objective: A build-it is a guided  design activity aimed at systematically teaching an engineering concept. It also teaches the use of hand basic tools and fabrication processes.  These sessions include topics:

  • Solar powered lamp/phone charger/bag
  • Wearable technology
  • Smart devices & the internet of things (IoT)
  • Sustainably design products from waste material


Each course has been expertly curated to include emerging methodologies and techniques and is adapted for the Kenyan environment. The courses are delivered through lectures and audio-video media and will be taught by experienced personnel, volunteers and guest speakers. We strive to be a progressive and eclectic school therefore all courses are hands-on and practical.

Classes will run from Monday to Friday for 2 hours every day. Therefore, for a student to successfully complete the program, they will have had to complete all the courses and at least one elective. Students are then eligible to become trainers themselves and train future classes.

In its entirety, the program will run for 2 months with at least two intakes each year, January and April, with a possible additional intake in July depending on the number of registered students. For the first intake, the number of students will range from 40- 50 to provide a personalized learning experience to the students. The program fee will only cost Ksh.2000  per person to cover cost of materials and to ensure overall sustainability of the program.

Through the Mekatilili Foondi Design Program, we hope make them cognizant of social impact and entrepreneurship early on, thereby, instilling the necessary skills to foster self-reliance and enable economic opportunities among the youth.

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