The objective of the ‘Get Lively!’ internship is to increase access to opportunities for disadvantaged youth who are often seen as ‘unemployable’ because of a lack of experience and soft skills. Our aim is to provide the skills and opportunities that mean that every young person who comes through the program will get ‘lively’, and contribute to their economy, provide for themselves and their families, and even go on to create and nurture opportunities for other young people. This can either be through the businesses they go on to work for or create, or by becoming mentors to incoming youth within the ‘Get Lively’ program.
Kenya faces an unemployment crisis that is exacerbated by stark gender and age-related inequalities. The youth unemployment rate in informal settlements has been estimated to be 70% based on the latest Kenyan census. Youth and women are most affected by unemployment and a lack of opportunities to secure a sustainable livelihood, as they often face significant barriers to employment and make up the greatest proportion of the low-income population in the country. These barriers include a limited number of formal jobs available, which create gaps in their employment history that are difficult to explain. This challenge is even greater for those who have not completed their formal education, or do not have practical skills demanded by the market. Women face additional hurdles as they often have lower levels of education, and many of their activities are restricted to the home.
LivelyHoods is a social enterprise that seeks to create opportunities for youth and women in urban informal settlements (slums) to earn a sustainable income and realize their employment potential. Since 2011 we have trained and employed youth and women to sell life improving, environmentally and socially beneficial products in their communities. In the five years since its launch, LivelyHoods has trained over 2,000 youth and women and created 920 jobs, ultimately creating more stable and prosperous socioeconomic conditions for Kenya’s slum communities.
We are now looking at how to springboard youth into the varied jobs they want, through an internship program that will equip them with employable skills that are not found in the school curriculum. Our three-month internship will be a unique, vocational and practical program, available free of charge, to youth aged 18-35. We will prioritize those who have not completed secondary school and who have no professional experience. Trainings will be conducted in the heart of Kenya’s informal settlements, from Nairobi, to Mombasa, Kisumu and Kericho, focusing on areas of high population density and high unemployment. They will take place in our dedicated training and product distribution centers, which will serve as the training hub for all interns, as well as a reference point for members of the community to access information about the internship at any time, and to purchase our sustainable energy products.
The Kenyan education system does not currently put an emphasis on promoting healthy communication, decision-making, work-readiness and confident presentation skills. We will therefore prioritise these skills in the ‘Get Lively’ curriculum. Youth gain business and social skills, as well as environmental awareness, and generate income during the internship.
We will foster a new type of entrepreneurship, combining guidance and coaching with the self-driven commissions-based payment for sales that encourages innovation.
All interns will be required to take ownership of their professional performance and advancement, and will receive one-on-one mentoring to discuss their ambitions, goals, areas of interest and next steps. Such one-on-one mentoring will be carried out on a weekly basis, in addition to daily group trainings and feedback sessions.
All of the trainers and managers leading LivelyHoods, who will be responsible for implementing this program, are former LivelyHoods trainees. In this way the original beneficiaries of the program become its leaders, inspiring future cohorts of young men and women to follow in their path of economic empowerment and self-determination.
During their time with LivelyHoods, the youth interns will provide access to modern conveniences that can save slum residents time and money that would otherwise be spent on fuel. The cookstoves we provide on consignment reduce indoor air pollution that causes respiratory problems, and drastically lower charcoal consumption. The solar lamps provide safer, brighter, and more reliable lighting than candles or kerosene, also saving households money. One clean cookstove can save a household over $115 a year, equivalent of up to two months household budget for a low-income household.
At the end of each internship period, we will reward all of that hard work, and celebrate the next steps that the interns will take! A graduation ceremony, open to family and friends, will also unite employers, corporate and SME partners, who will partner with LivelyHoods to absorb a number of LivelyHoods graduates into their companies. As LivelyHoods is providing professional skills to young unemployed individuals with potential, we will identify major employers who are looking for such youth to bring into their companies. Retail companies, security providers, beauty institutions, the hospitality sector, and construction companies will all be target sectors for this sort of partnership.