Safaricom’s BLAZE empowers youth through mentorships

    Some of the youths from Nakuru, follow the Safaricom Blaze summit held at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru

    Safaricom aims, through BLAZE, to teach the youth how to create, seek and take advantage of opportunities to find success-even in unconventional fields

    Safaricom hosts a series of youth empowerment summits under its recently launched sub-brand, BLAZE. It features a pool of mentors who have been selected to interact with the youth at the BLAZE Be Your Own Boss (B.Y.O.B) summits held across the country between June and mid-August 2016.

    B.Y.O.B was created to empower the youth with a desire to pursue careers considered to be unconventional. It will see participants gain from various areas of interest including business, sports, fashion, technology and agriculture, as well as benefit from real stories told by real people who have been able to succeed in these fields.

    “We’re giving the youth an opportunity to learn from other young people who have broken barriers to achieve success in fields considered to be outside the norm. They will  interact with young achievers through sessions where they can listen, ask questions, learn and be inspired, with the hope that they can find the courage to pursue their dreams,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director for Consumer Business – Safaricom.

    B.Y.O.B summit feature a full day of mentorship and plenary sessions designed to educate and guide youth interested in pursuing careers considered unconventional. The summit runs from 9am to 5pm and includes sessions focusing on fashion, music, media, agri-business, entrepreneurship and career building.

    B.Y.O.B has engaged a crop of young mentors to interact with the youth, with the hope of making the sessions more relatable to a young crowd expected to comprise mostly of college and university students. Among the mentors include young entrepreneurs like Erick Muthomi (CEO of Stawi Foods), Mike Muthiga of Fatboy Animations, techpreneur Trevor Kimenye of Ongair, FAFA co-founder Sylvia Tonui, artistes like King Kaka, Patricia Kihoro and actor Nick Mutuma among others

    The inaugural summit was held in Eldoret in June, which was attended by over 6,000 youth from Uasin Gishu County and its environs. This was followed by others in Nakuru, Thika and Embu. The rest is scheduled to take place in Mombasa and Kisumu.

    Social Enterprise Sharon Cate mentors students from various institutions
    Social Enterprise Sharon Cate mentors students from various institutions

    “Before we launched BLAZE we did a lot of research in order to understand how to engage the youth. During these sessions they told us that what they needed most was empowerment to achieve their dreams. This is what informed our decision to launch BLAZE,” pointed out Ms. Mulinge.

    The research was conducted by TNS Global and Youth Dynamix Kenya between late 2015 and early 2016, with the results showing that – contrary to popular belief – Kenyan youth are more interested in turning their passions into professional careers than in parties.

    “Our young people may be interested in having fun, but they are more interested in what they can do to secure their futures while at the same time creating real jobs out of their passions.  In Eldoret, the most popular sessions turned out to be those that focused on agri-business, entrepreneurship and career talks,” she explained.

     Take advantage

    Safaricom aims, through BLAZE, to teach the youth how to create, seek and take advantage of employment opportunities, take control of their finances and build networks of influence that will help them as they set off on their journeys to finding success – even in unconventional fields.

    “We’re not saying that conventional careers are not important; what we’re saying is that we have realised that not everyone is meant to be a banker or lawyer and that there is nothing wrong with turning your passion for something like fashion for example into a professionally-run business,” added Ms. Mulinge.

    BLAZE has also partnered with jobs site Brighter Monday to  teach young people how to package themselves when seeking employment.

    Through the series of summits,  young Kenyans will also get an opportunity to network and audition for the upcoming B.Y.O.B. TV show, which will see 12 contestants compete for a chance to win funding for their businesses.

    Entry into each summit will cost Kshs.100 per person, redeemable for airtime or merchandise at the venue.

    BLAZE – which cost Kshs.700 million to conceptualize, develop and launch – is a sub-brand of Safaricom and is the first platform of its kind in the East and Central African market to be co-created with the youth, for the youth.