Enterprise

Group turns dumpsite into wealth creation station for slum youth

majengo

The group’s five-storey rental building next to Gikomba market. PHOTO | WINNIE ONYANDO NMG

Summary

  • To the unknowing eye, nothing about the establishments stands out.
  • But for the residents of Majengo slum, they are the embodiment of a programme that has been turning their sons and daughters from crime and drug addiction and transforming them into wealth creators.
  • The properties and business are owned by the Uprising Youth Group and their chairman Adam Abdullah says it has been a long journey that began with a single step.

Next to Gikomba market in Nairobi stands a five-storey building, a car wash yard, and a library.

To the unknowing eye, nothing about the establishments stands out. But for the residents of Majengo slum, they are the embodiment of a programme that has been turning their sons and daughters from crime and drug addiction and transforming them into wealth creators.

The properties and business are owned by the Uprising Youth Group and their chairman Adam Abdullah says it has been a long journey that began with a single step.

“Majengo was known for promiscuity and crime. Our main aim was to turn around the narrative. We came up with the group to empower the youth,” says Mr Abdallah of the group that was established in 2002 with 30 members.

But the group’s roots run deeper than that.

The empowerment seed was planted in the 1990’s with the formation of Majengo Mashimoni Group, which was headed by the then ward representative Kenneth Irongo. Mr Irongo wanted to mould the youth to be strong, independent and have a positive impact on the society.

Though his mission was not fully established, ACK St Johns Church later took up the mantle and offered various trainings to give the youth from the poor background economic skills.

“My team and I are products of St Johns Community Centre where we gained various skills ranging from business ideas, leadership, law and managerial skills,” notes Mr Abdallah who was born and brought up in Majengo slums.

big problems

Long after Mr Abdallah had left the centre empowered, crime, drugs, and substance abuse were still big problems in the slum.

“Most of us were just loitering around with no vision. Some of us were drug addicts and dependent on people’s pockets. We wanted to make things right,” says Mr Abdallah.

He knew he had to give back to the society. He marshalled other beneficiaries and in 2002 formed the Uprising Youth Group.

Their first venture was the car was business.

For the longest time, the current place where the car wash yard is situated was a dumping site. All the garbage from Gikomba market found its way there.

“The stench was too much,” says Hamisi Mohammed, the group treasurer.

But more than the stench, they also sniffed a business opportunity.

“We forwarded our plight to the concerned authorities. Immediately the garbage was collected, we seized the place and began putting structures for our car wash. By then there were only nine of us but the number grew with time,” explains Mr Mohammed.

Today, more than 30 youths are employed at the car wash. They get their daily income as the rest cash is invested back into the group.

Over time saved enough and saw another business opportunity amid the boon in Gikomba market. As business grew, storage space was a headache for traders. With land already available, they decided to build the five-storey rental building.

“We decided to build in bits. The savings we made were used to finish the entire building,” says Miss Zelpher Ingasia, the group’s secretary.

Sh50,000 monthly income

The building has 29 rooms. The cheapest rent goes for Sh15,000 and the highest Sh120,000 every month.

This sees the group bank Sh1.5 million every month from the rental property alone.

The group has patterned with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) to save Sh100,000 every month with the rest deposited in members’ account.

Every month, each member of the group receives Sh50,000 in their respective bank account as share of the profit.

“We can look back and smile at how God has blessed our humble beginning. From an isolated dumping site to a wealth creating station,” said Mr Abdallah.

While addressing youth unemployment, which acts as a catalyst to their engagement in crime, the group realised that the area was producing few competent individual who could compete for skilled labour. One of the reasons for a low number of youth with skills was poor performance in national examination.

To address the problem, the group started community library in 2010.

“Over the years we have assisted more than 1,500 students. As a result, we have contributed to better academic performance in Majengo and have notable students who have advanced to institutes of higher learning as a result of the availability of the library,” cited Mr Abdallah.

Michael Mwangi, 16 is one of the beneficiaries of the library.

“My intention is also to hold the hands of other young boys and girls just the same way Uprising is doing to us. Indeed if we continue to work together as youths, we can move mountains,” said Michael.