Story

Samuel Mathenge

Meet Samuel Mathenge, a Tech Enthusiast Who Equipped Over 600 Youth with Digital Skills in Nyeri County

Through Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) Kenya’s community leadership program, under the Daring to Shift project supported by Global Affairs Canada, Samuel Kariuki Mathenge equipped 625 youth (318f, 307m) youth with basic digital skills in Nyeri County. Discover how Samuel has contributed towards bridging the digital divide in his community, and how he is leveraging the skills and networks gained during this experience. 

Voilà! finally a graduate

About six kilometers from Nyeri Town, along Nyeri-Nyahururu Highway, stands a prestigious institution —Dedan Kimathi University of Technology. Here is where Samuel bagged a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Technology in 2018. After four years of studies, it was undoubtedly a moment of jubilation as family and friends convened at the university to celebrate Samuel for this enviable milestone. On the other hand, he was counted among the approximately 50,000 Kenyans who graduate annually (according to the Commission for Higher Education) —all competing for the same opportunities. To stand out from this pool, Samuel began to upskill as he applied for jobs. “I found myself in a very competitive tech space where you need to be engaging in constant learning and adaptation to stay ahead of the curve,” said Samuel. 

Joining DOT Kenya

During his search for opportunities in 2021, Samuel came across a Facebook post from DOT Kenya —an NGO committed to mobilizing and inspiring all underserved and disadvantaged young people with digital literacy, 21st-century skills, and the self-confidence that will enable them to thrive in an inclusive digital economy. The post highlighted a need for community leaders from Nyanza, Central, Western, Rift Valley and Coastal Kenya, and he took a step to apply. “My primary focus had been on personal, professional growth and striving for technical excellence through self-guided tutorials and freelance work. I was a tech enthusiast, but I lacked the confidence and skills required to step into a leadership role,” he said, noting his motivation to join our Community Leadership program.  “It had not dawned on me that I had something that people needed in my community and were not able to access. The thought of youths lacking the knowledge to operate a computer or even understand what their mobile phones can do for them hadn’t crossed my mind,” Samuel added. 

Over 600 youth equipped with digital skills in Nyeri County

When Samuel stepped into the community leadership role, tasked with empowering youth with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the digital landscape, he served with so much passion that his impact turned out to be notable. Samuel has equipped 625 youth (51% being young women), with digital skills. The unwavering efforts from our esteemed partners in Nyeri, including Nyeri Youth Empowerment Centre, Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) Nyeri, KNLS Karatina, and Generation Youth, underpin this incredible success. Attesting to this accomplishment, Samuel said, “Collaboration has played a pivotal role in mobilization efforts with partners and influential youth leaders in my community.” 

Impactful training sessions

Besides digital skills, under the ‘Exploring Your Career Options,’ module, Samuel’s participants gained knowledge on how to apply for jobs and pitch to potential employers. They also learned how to tailor their CVs to job descriptions, using a computer as a goal manager and gained the confidence to apply to jobs that they were interested in but partially qualified for. “It was not only about teaching technical skills, but also instilling confidence and providing a safe space for learners to ask questions, make mistakes, and grow,” he said, emphasizing the importance of having self-confidence. Additionally, during his facilitation of the digital business plus ICT program (which focused on equipping youth and community with Entrepreneurial, Financial Literacy and Digital skills to grow and sustain their business) in Generation Youth located in Othaya, Samuel interacted with Simon. Through the program, Simon was inspired to start a carwash, which is earning him an income. He also gained digital marketing skills and he is now making impressive TikTok videos to market his business. 

A bumpy ride

Samuel’s journey has not been without challenges. Speaking about this, he noted, “During my time as a facilitator, I encountered individuals from diverse backgrounds. Each had their unique challenges and aspirations. Some were eager learners, while others struggled with the basics of technology.” Despite experiencing these challenges, he was able to figure a way out. One particular module, “Introduction to a Computer,” helped the participants harness their computer skills. Those who initially lacked the technical know-how eventually hacked it. “I witnessed the transformation of my students, from timid beginners to confident digital navigators.” Samuel also embraced empathy and patience, which enabled him to tend to the needs of every participant. “I discovered that by understanding the fears and doubts of my students, I could tailor my teaching approach to meet their needs. I became not just an instructor but a mentor, a guide, and a source of encouragement,” he said with excitement. 

Personal growth

The community leadership program has benefited both the youth in his community and Samuel. To add to the leadership skills, he also acquired confidence. This has encouraged him to explore other activities in his community. “ I was inspired to take on leadership roles beyond the digital jobs level one program that I was facilitating. Today, I stand as a youth leader in my church, helping guide and mentor the next generation. My journey with DOT Kenya has not only transformed me into a confident digital skills facilitator but also a compassionate and patient leader.” Samuel has also made networks, which have led to more opportunities. 

“My path took an unexpected and profoundly rewarding turn when I crossed paths with DOT Kenya. The decision to join DOT Kenya was a great moment that would not only expand my horizons but also enable me to give back to my community in ways I had never imagined. I was able to use my digital skills to empower others and help them achieve their goals. This was an incredibly rewarding experience.” 

An aspiring agri-tech expert

“I love Agribusiness, particularly using technology to enhance food security,” said the football fanatic. Samuel added that he is enthusiastic about giving back to the community, and the skills and networks he gained at DOT Kenya will be resourceful in achieving his future goals.  

Samuel’s story demonstrates the power of investing in youth leadership. His journey highlights the effectiveness of hands-on community engagement and the importance of empowering young leaders as key drivers of local development.

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