•2jiajiri's objective is to empower and equip unemployed and out-of-school youth to grow micro enterprises.
•It provides them with technical skill training opportunities and continuous businesses training.
When Wilson Karoki completed his fourth form at Kahiga Secondary School in Nyeri County, in 2011, he had a dream of becoming an accomplished mechanic.
He grew up in a rural setup where he saw his parents struggle to put food on the table.
Paying his school fees on time was also a daunting task as the the 27 years old, who is a first born in a family of four, struggled thorough his education.
He knew he had an uphill task to make his dream come true.
After O-level, Karoki joined Nyeri Technical Training Institute, now the Nyeri National Polytechnic, to pursue a course on Automotive Engineering.
“I did grade one , two and three, and certificate in craft automotive,” Karoki told the Star in an interview.
At the institution, he learned about the 2jiajiri programme, a flagship of the
KCB (Kenya Commercial Bank) Foundation that seeks to catalyse job and wealth creation for youth micro enterprises, targeting the informal sector within Eastern Africa.
“I was at the institute in 2015 when I learned about 2jiajiri through my friends who had joined the programme. I decided to give it a try and things changed. I switched from a mind of being employed to becoming an employer,” Karoki narrates.
He applied for the programme and was shortlisted, what he describes as a “life changing opportunity.”
2jiajiri's objective is to empower and equip unemployed and out-of-school youth to grow micro enterprises, by providing them with technical skill training opportunities and continuous businesses training.
It also offers mentorship and enterprise management support interventions designed to spur the growth and development of Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs).
These interventions are calibrated to promote the growth of SMEs so that they in turn can create jobs, KCB notes.
Currently, the programme formalises the informal sector through a phase approach where in Phase I, it addresses the lack of technical skills in the market.
This is through sponsoring training for new students in technical training institutions and for workers who already have skills to improve them and learn how to work using advanced tools.
The training focuses on six economic sub-sectors of agribusiness, automotive engineering, beauty and personal care, building and construction, domestic services and ICT.
The second phase is on business development services where programme participants are developed, provided with access to capital and business incubated for a period of 12 month- the outcome being a bankable enterprise able to secure credit and services from a bank.
Here the youth are trained on how to register a business, create business development plans and proposals, marketing, bookkeeping and advertising.
“We also use our convening power to link them with the market,” the KCB Foundation says.
Phase III is when the graduates are ready and their ideas have been vetted for bankability.
Here, the bank through the foundation gives them loans to advance their business ideas.
After completing his course at the Nyeri Technical Institute, the lucky Karoki was sponsored to the Toyota Kenya Academy by KCB, where between 2017 and 2019, he pursued a course in automotive.
“I was fully sponsored by KCB with Toyota Kenya giving me all the skills that I need. I am now a knowlagable service technician,' Karoki said.
The bank has helped Karoki own a carwash at a strategic location in Nairobi's Upper Hill area along Kenya Road, just behind the KCB headquarters.
He has 'hustled' in the Jua Kali industry where he has worked as a mechanic from 2015 to date, starting off in Nyeri before moving to Nairobi–Roysambu.
Karoki is now a proud owner of a fast classes car wash where he projects to be making Sh30,000 a month with an annual net of a million month, thanks to 2jiajiri programme which has extended a Sh4 million loan to him.
“This is a huge investment The bank has helped me put up a car wash site with machines costing about Sh900,000. This includes imported high quality pressure wash machines, buffing machine and car wash vacuum cleaner,” Karoki explains.
He has employed five people with plans to expand into garage business at the current site, and a number of branches in Nairobi and its outskirts.
“The 2jiajiri programme has come as a life changer. It is tough out there. This is a golden opportunity,” he says.
He targets corporates and offices around Upper Hill area while he continues marketing his business online.
“I can guarantee the customer he or she will get the best service because I understand all the do's and donts in car wash,” he says.
He plans to build a house for his mother, pay his brothers school fees and support his entire family grow, as well as create employment for the youth
He recommends the 2jiajiri programme to the youth which he says apart from an opportunity to become self employed, they will get knowledge and skills to help them in the job market where employent has become a challegneg.
“There are no jobs out there. Employment is no-longer there, we need to think of how to become self employed,” Karoki says.
Jane Karani, a 46 years old hair stylist is another beneficiary of the 2jiajiri programme.
Her dream has always been to own a saloon. She never wanted to be employed.
“I have always prayed to God to bless me with my own Saloon business,” says Jane.
While growing up, she would plait her mother and sisters hair. Her passion in hair styling saw her join the Nairobi School of Hairdressing in 1998 where she studied cosmetology where she gained more skills on hairstyling, skin care, cosmetics, manicures, pedicures among others.
“After high school my parents had already seen my passion with hair so they took me to a hairdressing school,” Karani explains.
She went into employment after college working in saloons in the neighbourhoods of Hurlingham and Lavington.
In 2013, she opened her own saloon along Ngong Road while still working at her employer.
The business however went down after two years, leaving her with no option but depend on employment.
“ I would say that time I was young and dint know much on how to successfully run a business but also since I was employed somewhere else, I dint have time to run my own salon. It was ran down by the staff I had left to run the business,” she says.
“ I could not make money even for rent so I closed it down. I decided let me wait until I am mature enough and ready to run my own business,” she adds.
Jane who has been in the hair industry for 18 years, most of the time being employed, was introduced to the 2jiajiri programme by a client.
“A client friend whom I had done her hair for four years asked me if I would love to own my own saloon and I said why not. She told me about the KCB foundation and how it was working with Ashleys ( hair care and beauty services provider). I took interest and I was enlisted in the programme,” she explains.
Through Ashleys, Jane secured a Sh4 million loan from KCB at interest free.
Ashleys then went ahead to open a saloon for her, about one and a half years ago, which now operates as its franchise until she clears paying her loan in a period of about five years.
She gets full support in running the 'Ashleys Mashinani' saloon along Karen Road, in Karen, where she has specialised in hairdressing and massage. She also runs a barber section within the salon.
“2jiajiri and Ashleys have made my dream come true,” Jane says.
The Covid-19 pandemic has however not been easy for Jane who had to close for a month and a half, loosing all her employees.
She is however back in business with a new team of four employees, two barbers, two beauticians herself as a hair stylist .
KCB has given her a six-moths break from loan repayment to support her through the pandemic which has hit millions of households and businesses.
“It has helped me channel what I am making to other costs such as rent. It is the best relief one can get during this tough times,” she explains.
Her growth plan includes opening branches in Nairobi and her home county of Kiambu.
“2jiajiri has made my dream come true and I want to expand and create opportunities for others,” she said during our interview.