Unlocking Potential through Mindset Change among Unemployed Youth in Kenya

Grant Details

Organization: Emerging Leaders
Country: Kenya
Funding Year: 2021
Project Duration: 4 years


Funding Areas

Private Sector Solutions ✓
Empowerment of Individuals ✓
Teaching Freedom ✓


Unemployment in Kenya among youth aged 15-24 is over 60%, and the struggle to generate sufficient income is even harder for vulnerable youth such as teen moms, those struggling with alcohol and drugs, school dropouts, or those with criminal records. COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on youth living in informal settlements, worsening their pre-existing vulnerable situation.

One of the key challenges for these forgotten youth is that, as they look around them, they see the same, hopeless story played out in almost every person around them. These youth chronically fail at benefitting from typical entrepreneurship and business-skills programs because they are either ‘over-looked’ or don’t believe they fit or are able to succeed. Instead, they wait for help from others – like parents, government, or big business.

To break this cycle of inter-generational poverty, Emerging Leaders’ project in Kenya will work with vulnerable, unemployed youth in urban informal settlements of the Nairobi and Naivasha regions. The program focuses first on changing mindsets to unlock youths’ potential. Then the program builds on this with financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills, typically seeing upwards of 70-80% of participants start a small income-generating business - one they identify, plan, and deliver and which more than doubles their monthly income.

This four-year project will focus on scaling-up delivery of the Leadership for Life program to 18,000 poor urban youth through a train-the-trainer model. The program is delivered by youth themselves - who have been transformed through their own leadership and entrepreneurship journey.

Our goal is to see:

70% start income-generating projects

40% linked with other programs or companies that can help them to grow their businesses

5% to be employing at least one other person.

Rising Tide Foundation and Emerging Leaders partner to change the mindset among unemployed youth in Kenya

Contribution to Enhancing Freedom

Every single day the story of our lives is being written; the question is who has the pen? Emerging Leaders’ approach to enhancing freedom is to help youth re-imagine and then re-write their story by empowering them with the mindsets, motivations, and skills to flourish. This

enables them to navigate the challenges of life and make choices that will enable them and those around them to thrive. The program helps create flourishing communities by unlocking human potential and unleashing entrepreneurial creativity. When youth realize they are free to lead themselves and have agency over their choices and future, their entrepreneurship, energy, and growth is unstoppable and a catalyst for transformative change.

True freedom means no one - not us, nor any other entity - can tell youth what they should want or should dream. So “flourishing” is not defined by us, instead youth define it for themselves. And then they are coached to “lift up their heads” to see the needs around them, and how their own actions can help solve those needs. And thus, the link from mindsets to entrepreneurship to flourishing is born

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