By Samuel Okerosi and Boaz Khuteka
- Event held by KCUCSA at Kisii University.
- Aim was to empower youth and open them to more opportunities.
- Charlene Ruto graced the occasion.
The world needs pioneers, innovators and people who plan on turning the world through innovation. It is looking up to people who can think beyond the horizon, and this is where future leaders come from.
The Kisii County University and Colleges Student Association (KCUCSA) held a youth empowerment summit on Friday, May 12, 2023, at Kisii University grounds.
Organized by Dennis Sagini, KCUCSA president, hosted by Gorffly Mokua, KCUCSA Secretary General, the event focused on innovation, leadership, and climate change and aimed to inspire and empower young people to become change-makers in their
The event brought together students and young professionals from across the county to discuss issues affecting the youth.
The summit’s Chief Guest was Charlene Ruto, the first daughter of the President of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto.
Upon arrival, Ms. Ruto, was received by KCUSCA leadership, before being led to the office of Prof. Joseph Mailutha, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Planning and Finance, Kisii University, who represented Prof. John Akama, the Vice Chancellor.
She then proceeded to plant a tree at the university’s academic square.
The occasion was also graced by the presence of Zaheer Jhanda, Member of Parliament (MP) Nyaribari Chache; Charles Matoke, ANC Deputy Party Leader; Sharleen Wambui, Nominated MCA Murang’a County Assembly; Simon Tanui, NEMA County Director; Lennox Omondi, Ecobana Limited CEO; Vicky Onderi, CEO of IC4RD, and hundreds of students and youth fraternity.
The summit also featured speeches on leadership, innovation and climate change, where the leaders shared their thoughts and experiences on driving effective change in their communities.
Mutua Muliira, an epidemiologist, nutritionist and clinical nutrition professional at Kisii University, showcased his co-founded innovation, National Youth Awakening (NYA).
NYA is a youth mentorship organization that has been on the pipeline on a mission to empower and inspire young people in their academics, social, economic and political pursuits for enhancement of personal and professional growth.
“Our focus is on providing access to information, opportunities and mentorship to enable youths from a wide range of backgrounds and circumstances to realize their full potential and become successful in their life paths.
We do this through extensive motivational talks, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities. We strive to cultivate a supportive community and platform that encourages learning, growth, professionalism, and leadership among fellow young people,’’ clarified Muliira.
Young people are often at the forefront of new technologies, ideas, and approaches.
Whether it’s developing new apps to address social problems, creating new products that are more sustainable and eco-friendly, or using new tools to mobilize communities around issues they care about, they are driving innovation in diversified ways.
Lennox Omondi, CEO of Eco-Bana Ltd. and a student from St. Paul’s University, presented his project of using banana fibers to produce biodegradable, eco-friendly, and hygienic sanitary towels made from banana fibers.
The project, led by a team of four, aims to stop using plastics to manufacture sanitary towels.
He said it instead embraces organic and natural solutions in eradicating period poverty and enhancing gender equality with environmental sustainability.
The innovation led the team to represent Kenya and Africa in New York, US, winning the 2022 Hult Prize Glober winner of KSh120 million, which was awarded to them by former US President Bill Clinton.
Amos Onyonka, a student from Kisii National Polytechnic, presented his innovation in Finda mobile application, a computer technology-backed software.
The application has led to the creation of jobs by allowing SME owners to easily upload information about their products and services, and customers can access the products through the app.
”We are a tech giant that aims to embrace technology by coming up with products that solve entrepreneurial problems in society,’’ explained Onyonka.
The application has been adopted by over 50 businesses within Kisii County.
Onyonka requested financial assistance to support the innovation.
Beyond innovation, leadership is another important aspect of youth empowerment, as young people are increasingly stepping up to take on leadership roles in their schools, communities, and beyond.
Whether it’s through student councils, community groups, or social movements, young people are showing that they have the skills, passion, and vision to lead in diverse fora.
“A leader must radiate positive energy so that people can follow and that it can be easy to communicate with others. Leaders should have a proactive attitude by easily delegating duties diligently and efficiently,” opined Matoke.
He called into action all youths to embrace and radiate positive energy and learn to balance their tasks and responsibilities in community service.
The ANC deputy party leader called upon innovative youths needing support to look for him so that his dream may be supported. Through this, every youth will be empowered.
According to Sagini, patience and resilience have been key in the organization’s running.
Apart from the mentorship programs they hold as KCUCSA, “…we are planning, in the next three years, to have nearly 3 million trees in the county,” said Sagini.
He said that as leaders, they are organizing for such and more platforms to expose talented youth to opportunities and talent growth.
According to Sharleen Wambui, Nominated MCA Murang’a County Assembly, “What stands between you today and the future you so want dearly, is the choices you make.”
She painted leadership on campus as a stepping stone to better future leadership.
Ms. Wambui encouraged the youth to put their mind to what they want to achieve, for there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
New mindset altogether
Furthering the conversation on leadership and innovation, Dr. Walter Okibo, a scholar, entrepreneur, and boy child advocate, refuted the mindset that Kenya, or even Africa, is underdeveloped.
“We only need to open our minds and start thinking otherwise,” he said.
He urged the young people to stop shoving each other along the way, calling each to chart their course towards achieving their goals.
“The opportunities are so many. Let us try to make a difference by facing every opporutnity with alot of confidence and show the world that we can be better that what we are today,” challenged Dr. Okibo.
He further called them to the point of accountability on what they are behind their name in terms of having contributed to society.
In her speech, Charlene Ruto congratulated the young people who presented their projects and promised to fully support them.
She also recognized the efforts of a group of young innovators from Fort End Energy Alliance NGO, who are collaborating with her Smachs Foundation, which focuses on agriculture and climate action.
Unity and collaboration
Ms. Ruto appreciated the timeliness of the event, calling for unity among the young people in their endeavors because “working together, seeking collaborations and enhancing partnerships are vital avenues to empowerment,” she said.
Bringing our ideas together, according to her, our thoughts turn into global solutions, which can change lives if well implemented.
“Empowerment is about inclusivity, lighting each other’s candles and spreading a big light of change in every single thing that we do,” she added.
Adding to the power of unity, “A good writer needs someone to make the pen, another one to produce a paper, and another to develop the technology of typing and printing,” clarified Ms. Ruto.
Identifying with the body and its parts, which work in unity to complement each other, she underscored the need to collaborate on the different projects as young people.
“We must support each other; we must work together,” she called.
This collaboration of sharing thoughts from different backgrounds and fields will ensure skills and knowledge transfer, which are vital for empowering young people and developing ground for positivity and job creation.
“As young people, we have a voice, we have ideas. We are creative and brilliant, and we must utilize the available avenues and platforms to voice our ideas and our creativity,” she advised.
Ms. Ruto urged the young people to reach out to players in the entrepreneurial and leadership quarters and share their ideas with them.
“With a platform and voice, the youth also need attention from policymakers, implementers and influencers. Everyone needs to give the youth attention and actively listen to what they want,” she urged.
Active listening, in her view, encompasses taking up ideas and implementing them, not leaving them on the boardroom minutes.
She further highlighted the need for an enabling environment, offering guidance and mentorship to the young people, which would make it easier for the youth to achieve what they are chasing.
“Let us seek opportunities. … go for help until you achieve that which you want to achieve,” she spurred them up.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Otolo, award-winning innovator inspiring youths in the tech world
The summit acted as an eye-opener to the young people on the available opportunities, how to break the barriers, and parade themselves for better opportunities in the world of innovation.