A group of ReachUp! Participants from Korogocho Slum, Nairobi have come together to start a hotel business.
Getting to work: The participants preparing mandazi
The year 2012 started with group of 24 youths enrolling for ReachUp! training in Altawoon Youth Center in the Korogocho Slums of Nairobi. The group was composed of 10 women and 14 men, all aged between eighteen and twenty-five years. With such a youthful class I did not notice a month and a half elapsing, as each day was always filled with energy and enthusiasm.
Initially, presenting one lesson a day was the norm, but to satisfy inquisitiveness of these participants a change of tactics was required. Among the other things, I found myself preparing three modules in advance at any given time. With all these advanced preparations, some questions from the participants required more consultation and I often had to answer, "I am not very sure but give me more time to research on it and I will get back to you..." As the facilitator, this meant burning midnight oil researching more.
When it came to facilitating some of the advanced modules, the extra efforts I had invested in this group started to bear fruits. An idea of starting a hotel as a livelihood project was embraced by the majority of the class. Sixteen participants brought the idea forward, and formed a group under the name "Sweet Palace". The group chose to start small by making mandazi, chapati and tea with a small budget that each member contributed to. However, on March 3rd the group reassessed and six remaining members arrived at a new budget. Duties were allocated and all was ready for a launch on the morning of the 5th of March to kick off the project.
A small hiccup arose on Sunday evening, however, hence the project did not kick off as planned. But come Tuesday morning the mandazi was ready for sale and by mid-day they were selling!
Just two weeks from the first meeting, "Sweet Palace" had made a profit and was on its way to becoming sustainable. The membership had grown to eleven (five women and six men) and an office was in place composed of a chairperson, secretary and treasurer. Thanks to DOT and the ReachUp! program, this group of participant is on the way to a sustainable livelihood!