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Giving casual workers a side gig

Calvin Jodisi’s passion is mentoring the youth. He goes a step further by giving them a means of making additional income engaging them in

Twenty eight year-old and Actuarial Science graduate, Calvin Jodisi is the founder of Change Mind, Change Future, an organisation that mentors students in Kenya for a better future.

Through his organistion, a new programme called the Eco-Poa bags initiative was born. The programme started early this year with an aim of empowering and creating a social enterprise among the youth in Mathare.

He is working with the Ghetto Foundation to empower the youth. The foundation provides the space they work in. The beneficiaries of the programme are youth between the ages of 18 and 24.

The first 15 people engaged in the project were trained under the entrepreneurship Mtaani programme for two months. The training was mostly on marketing and entrepreneurship.

At least 10 graduated and they were absorbed into the programme. “I am passionate about empowering the youth for a greater future, because they are the leaders of today and trusted leaders of tomorrow.

I wanted to create a project that focuses on mentorship that gives ideas to start-ups and social entrepreneurs,” said Jodisi. Many of the youth who are part of the programme are casual labourers and therefore when they do not get work, the programme helps them keep busy and earn extra income.

The bags are made from recycled paper. They also make decorated vases using old wine bottles. Six months down the line the Eco-Poa bags have a sizable number of clients, including Zene Naturals (skin care products), Africa Mobile and Digital Banking, Migwi Farm, Pasha ICT Hub in Nanyuki and Book Saves.

“I mainly look for markets and sourcing for clients for the group. The bags usually go for Sh40 and Sh50, and some clients order up to 200 bags. The money we get pays the group and help in sustaining the programme.

In this way they become empowered and also the platform allows them to be creative in their own fields. This has really transformed them,” Jodisi said. “David ‘Dife’ Lichuma is one of the success stories.

The young man lived a life of despair, but through the training programme, he is more outgoing, and he leads the group and sometimes meets with potential clients.

“I believe that it’s only through diverse learning that we could build a world of integrity with focused people who can hold the future of their country and lift it to a higher level,” he said.

Jodisi said their biggest constraint is finances as they fund most of their activities. Sourcing for clients is a challenge, since the business is still new and also sometimes the clients do not pay on time.

“When this happens, I am forced to pay the youth as I wait for the payment,” said Jodisi. However, some of the promising clients who the initiative has approached and are enthusiastic about the product include Safaricom, Jumia Kenya, Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

For the next training, which is set to commence in a few months, Jodisi is planning to bring in volunteers from Denmark to help in training more youth in the area.

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