Youth empowerment takes center stage at international event

Panelists give their input during NYCK Afro Summit in Nairobi. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.
  • According to a report by Youth Alive Kenya, about half of the population in Nairobi are youths. 
  • The occasion was under the theme: Unification of youth voices as a catalyst for development in Africa.
  • The celebrations were a testament to the power of youth empowerment and collaboration.

Nairobi is one of the youngest and fastest-growing cities in the world, with youth escaping out of their teenage cocoon, full of dreams and aspirations.

Nairobi is also sinking from and surging with an over-supply of these little energetic humans. 

According to a report by Youth Alive Kenya, about half of the population in Nairobi are youths. 

In the heart of this city, a little above its centered bridge where all the vehicles turn around to leave or park beneath, where traffic never lack to form a backdrop, a group of youths stood by the window panes, with afro-music playing on the background sipping warm coffee as the event’s organizers set the stage in the other room.

The National Youth Caucus Kenya hosted delegates, politicians, young entrepreneurs and several other youths from all walks of life, at the Best Western Plus Meridian Hotel, right at the heart of the city, to commemorate the International Day of the Youth. 

Youth follow proceedings during the occasion. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

Serving as a platform for recognizing youth-owned startups, the event also recognized individuals making a significant impact in the lives of youths in Kenya.

Innovation showcased

The event witnessed a convergence of youths from diverse backgrounds, such as schools, entrepreneurship, advocacy, and other areas of service and learning.

One of the pivotal highlights of the event was the recognition given to remarkable youth-owned startups and social impact movements. 

Alpha Technologies, a tech company that enables one to design a mobile application in under thirty minutes, and EcoBana, a startup that manufactures sanitary pads from banana trunks and which won last year’s global Hult Prize of KSh120 million, among many others, we present.

Some of the innovators during the event. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

These enterprising individuals showcased their innovative solutions, which spanned a variety of sectors, including technology, sustainability, and social impact. 

A learning experience

The event provided them a chance to network, gain exposure, and receive mentorship from established professionals present, offering valuable insights and guidance to help them navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Winnie Odinga, the daughter of renowned opposition party leader Raila Odinga, graced the event. 

The occasion was under the theme: Unification of youth voices as a catalyst for development in Africa. 

In her exuding passion and commitment to youth empowerment, she assured of her support for youth-led events and organizations.

Winnie Odinga giving her remarks. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

She also emphasized the importance of active engagement of youths on different platforms, be it social media, encouraging them to step up and make their voices heard.

Youth participation vital

“All our problems are universal,” Lucy Mutuku, the Founder, National Youth Caucus Kenya (NYCK), reminded the youth.

Highlighting the importance of youth participation in decision-making processes, she encouraged them to actively engage in shaping policies and programs that directly impact their lives and communities.

Lucy Mutuku, Founder, NYCK, which hosted the event, giving her address. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

The NYCK also recognized the potential impact of youth-led initiatives and innovations on the overall development agenda.

The event saw the esteemed presence of Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, a staunch advocate of the youth and a beneficiary of a youth initiative that saw him roll out a carefully planned universal healthcare (UHC) while he was a governor.

“Youths need the courage to do the hard things,” he said.

Prof. Kibwana lauded the youths who came to him with the idea, having just to oversee it and push for it as a political figure, he called this the power of a youthful mindset.

He also shared insights garnered from his years of experience in public service as a professor at the University of Nairobi.

He shared with the audience concerning tough decisions he had to make to keep on the radar even when his fellow youths fell off to liver problems. 

Change starts with you

“Change must start with you before it goes somewhere else. We want to inherit a good Kenya. 

The audience follows proceeding during the occasion. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

I’m 69 and in the next few years, I won’t be around. So, if you inherit a useless Kenya, you are the ones who will suffer and your children too,” Prof. Kibwana inspired the youths.

He urged them to embrace the roles of change-makers.

He emphasized the need for a holistic approach to youthful empowerment, focusing on education, access to opportunities, and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit. 

He urged the youths in the room to study often to know the changes they are seeking and the best approaches to realizing change.

 Underscoring the importance of such meetings, he called to mind a time when they were coming up with today’s Kenyan Constitution over a decade ago. 

“We were just meeting like you guys here right now,” he said.

His presence served as a beacon of hope, inspiring attendees to aim higher and make a lasting impact in communities.

Mental wellness

Wrapping off the evening session was a Mental Health Coach and Human Resource professional, Esther Katiba.  

Recognizing the alarming rise in mental health issues affecting young people, Ms. Katiba highlighted the importance of prioritizing mental wellness. 

Through her heartfelt message, she shed light on the challenges faced by youth in navigating the pressures of modern life.

Ms. Katiba stressed the significance of destigmatizing mental health struggles, drawing from her experience in handling workplace situations. 

Esther Katiba delivering her input. PHOTO/Bernard Aswani.

Her session offered practical tips and coping strategies, equipping attendees with the tools necessary to prioritize their well-being.

The vibrant atmosphere at the event fostered a strong sense of community and collective empowerment. 

Collaborations and partnerships

The youths who attended from various backgrounds shared their stories, journeys, struggles and wins.

Guests also joined virtually from other parts of the world, with some being from Uganda, Nigeria and even the diaspora, to create an environment of inclusivity and diversity.

The mutual exchange of ideas and experiences opened doors for potential collaborations and partnerships, nurturing an ecosystem of support and innovation.

Ms. Odinga offered to mentor a trailblazer participant dealing in communications and public relations and a CEO of a company dealing with such.

The celebrations were a testament to the power of youth empowerment and collaboration.

In planning for the event, a youth empowerment council had been involved.

Motivated for change

Through the presence and insights of eminent personalities, participants were motivated to embrace their potential and effect positive change.

The unification of the youth voices as a catalyst for development in Africa recognizes the immense potential of young people to drive positive change in Africa. 

The event showcased the remarkable contributions of youth-owned startups and reinforced the importance of nurturing a supportive environment fostering innovation and growth. 

Through events like these, young individuals are empowered to leverage their collective energies and advocate for a more inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous Africa.

Such amplify their voices and effectively contribute to the development agenda. 

YOU MAY ALSO READ: Collaboration key in innovation, youths learn during empowerment summit

As these young visionaries continue to pave the way for a brighter future, their collective efforts will undoubtedly shape a world where youth empowerment is at the forefront of social progress.

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Ms. Loise is a Communication Specialist with a bachelor's degree in Publishing and Media Science from Moi University, Kenya. She is a dedicated web developer and a climate change and environment writer. She also owns diverse skills in social media marketing. Her contact: loiselenser@gmail.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos Scholar Media Africa for the excellent work you are doing. Wonderful article Ms. Loise. You are a brilliant and gifted writer. Keep up the good work in highlighting African stories and in your own unique way pushing forward the African youth development agenda!

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