Beyond Small Businesses: Announcing the Work Readiness Program! September 8, 2014 by Nick Johnson
It’s been close to 9 years since Carolina for Kibera launched Trash Is Cash (Taka ni Pato), a program designed to provide mentorship for entrepreneurs who see garbage as an economic resource for their businesses. Starting with trash collection services throughout the community, it has since expanded to include several small businesses using “waste” as their primary raw material or input. In the past year, Trash Is Cash has also welcomed other small businesses without a focus on waste to participate in business counseling sessions and workshops. The reason behind this is simple: we want all Kiberan small business owners to succeed.
We’ve written before about how the shops of Kibera line the roads and business owners clamor for the attention of passersby. This marketplace is central to daily life in Kibera. However, not everyone in Kibera wants to own a small business. Competition is fierce, and making a living through a small business can be tough and risky. Thousands of people living in Kibera dream of entering many other professions, like engineering, accounting, journalism, or professional sports.
That’s why CFK’s Economic and Entrepreneurship Department has launched the Work Readiness program.
Breaking into these professions can be difficult for anyone—but it’s especially difficult for residents of Kibera. Many who live in Kibera don’t have the money to finish school. Spending money on a future degree also takes funds away from things that sustain daily, like food or water. On top of the economic and educational limitations they face, there is a pervasive stereotype that residents of Kibera are lazy and uneducated, which makes finding secure employment even more difficult.
The Work Readiness program aims to do exactly what it promises: help Kiberans interested in formal employment become prepared to work in the field of their choice. The program consists of workshops to develop both hard skills (such as creating budgets, drafting memos and e-mails, and creating work plans) and soft skills (such as managing work flow, working collaboratively, and interacting with partners and supporters). Participants have the opportunity to enroll in a certificate or degree course in one of a few pre-selected fields, and have the option to pursue an internship in that same field as well.
Out of 67 community members who applied, 22 were accepted into the first cohort after being thoroughly evaluated by CFK staff. All of them have been a part of CFK in the past and are eager for this new initiative! With their leadership, this new program will debunk negative stereotypes and will secure livelihoods for more determined Kiberans.