Today was our first day of pre-programme training with VSO‘s Dfid funded ICS programme alumni, a group of aspiring social entrpreneurs all in their early 20s who finished ICS (International Citizen Service) in Kenya this year. Following three months’ volunteering with organisations who were addressing community issues, they voiced that they wanted to launch social enterprises at the end of the process.

VSO Jitolee who run the ICS programme in Kenya, saw this trend of young Kenyan volunteers expressing an interest or a desire to learn more around social entrpreneurship and contacted _SocialStarters to provide this training.

So here we are.

Our first stop is Eldoret in Western Kenya, a lively youthful town around an hour or two’s drive from Kisumu and Nakuru, Kenya’s largest cities outside of Nairobi and Mombassa.

Our goal? To help the young people VSO Jitolee have recruited for this programme launch new social enterprises – and we’re going to do this in six weeks! Some of them have come with ideas, some of them know they want to do more to change the world but don’t know where to start, and the overwhelming majority are all here to make money. Unemployment of the 18-35 year old age group is around 80% in Kenya so earning a living is the number one priority on everyone’s minds.

Joining us on this mission are Melanie & Jen, aspiring social entrepreneurs from Berlin & London who are joining _SocialStarters as Social Enterprise Consultants, a voluntary position that anyone with a passion for social entrepreneurship can apply for. Together we’ll be designing tools to facillitate the learning of the young people that we work with, which as well as the ICS alumni will also include four youth groups who are doing amazing things in their communities around HIV/AIDS Advocacy, waste management and employment of vulnerable people.

At the moment the VSO group are in Eldoret town interviewing entrepreneurs and small business owners, and asking them questions about what makes them a successful (or not) entrepreneur. They’ll be coming back with research on around 4 or 5 business owners and we’ll discuss with them what makes their chosen subjects entrepreneurs (or not!).

We’ve also set them the task of delivering a 10 minute presentation about themselves and the problems they face in the community, which they’ll deliver next week to our consultants once they have arrived.

The next six weeks are going to be challenging and ambitious, but this group are already really on it, having beeing through VSO’s ICS programme which equips local volunteers with the skills to feel enabled to be changemakers in their communities.

Eldoret seems to be a really vibrant town with lots of potential. Even over lunch a 20 year old lad called Valerian who is studying a Computer Science degree in Nakuru, came up to us asking us why we were here and what the opportunity was for him. Turns out he’s about to do a google Ad Words course and wants to work in digital advertising in Nairobi, maybe even for Google, where his mate is currently doing an internship.

We swapped details – it’s fair to say he could be more qualified to do our PPC than we can…