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September 21, 2018

Real Estate growth opens opportunities for artisans

One of the quarries at Engurunga in Athi River.Photo/ Jack Owuor
One of the quarries at Engurunga in Athi River.Photo/ Jack Owuor

THE late Italian designer Massimo Vignelli once said design should be visually powerful, intellectually elegant and above all timeless.

For design not only serves the purpose of beautifying spaces but also has a psychological bearing due to the mood it sets.

Perhaps it is for this reason that several training programmes have cropped up to equip modern day artisans commonly referred to as fundis, with interior design skills of some sort.

Construction is no longer just about erecting a home or commercial building to meet demand for housing and office space. Customers are becoming more discerning and want converged services to reduce the cost off construction. The option of killing two birds with one stone has never been so alluring as rising cost of building materials inflates project prices.

Mortgage financier Housing Finance has partnered with several institutions to train artisans. With the growth in returns in the property sector rising steadily, the industry is being seen as a fast redress to unemployment problems plaguing the country.

The government as well as many organisations are now initiating various programmes to train artisans to meet the demands of this sector.

National Construction Authority hopes to train at least one million artisans over the next three years and this will be partly achieved by setting up the National Construction Institute which it has announced will be ready by 2015.

Local firm Classic Mouldings is responding to this need of merging service through offering free training for construction industry artisans on matters interior design for value addition to their customers.Classic Mouldings was incorporated in Kenya in 1991 and operates interior design and construction services.

"We have been seeking to train anyone who is good with their hands in this industry especiialy the painters," said Franklin Karani, the technical director at Classic Mouldings.

The training project was started three years ago and has so far equipped 3,500 artisans with various skills in interior design and decor.

The project has seen previously employed artisans grow into entreprenuership and leaving employment to become employers by starting their own business.

This has caught the attention of Uwezo Fund which has come on board to join Classic Mouldings to organise and implement the training project which now targets 10,000 artisans over five years.

"Some of the people we train used to be our employees and now they have their own businesses and we encourage that," said Karani.

Uwezo Fund, a government backed kitty set aside to give cheap loans to youth-owned business as a job creation measure- came on board to help implement the training programme by Classic Mouldings that is expected to cost Sh17 million over next two years.

"Aside from training them on graphic design we also train participants on how to apply for funds and matters of tendering for projects so that they can benefit from the 30 per cent contract allocation that the government has set aside for youth and women owned businesses," added Karani.

Trainees are given theory as well as practical lessons where they are attached to an actual construction work site.

One beneficiary and an ex employee of Classic Mouldings, Samuel Wakhone, who was once just a painter now runs his own business employing about 20 employees.

"I am currently and interior designer with my own company that has managed to secure many projects to work on," Wakone told the Star.

Chief executive of Classic Mouldings Moise Noiman said: "Our goal is to equip them with technical skills to produce inspiring, creative and extra ordinary residential and commercial interiors."

Uwezo Fund chairperson Wanjiru Gathira said the training programme will promote decent jobs in the informal sector.

Nairobi Institute of Technology has also launched courses for building and construction sector as a way to cut down on sub standard projects that could affect the success of the property sector.

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