The youth form the majority of Kenyan’s population but even with their large numbers, unemployment and drug abuse remain key barriers to their productivity. Youths are a hub of innovation, and when given the opportunity they can create green solutions to solve these problems that threaten the success of our country.
Aware of the underutilized potential in most youths, Ecopro initiative, a community-based organization went out with a vision to improve the livelihoods and ensure sustainable future among Kenyan youth through promotion and support of green economy entrepreneurship programs.
Who are ecopro and what do they do
Ecopro initiative is a community-based organization, established in 2015, with the main aim of creating employment opportunities for the youth, through sustainable resource management. A good example is the conservation of wetlands, an initiative we have ventured in to seek the conservation of Ondiri swamp located in Kikuyu town as well as promote eco-tourism opportunities.
We also promote adoption of Bamboo trees for restoration of wetlands and degraded landscape. We embrace the value addition of Bamboo trees and other fast-growing trees e.g has avocados, by connecting farmers with institutions that add value to their trees. An example of an institution that we work with is KEFRI.
Eco-pro also plans to venture into Waste management, where we envision to work with the municipal councils -collect organic waste, then compost the waste to manure.
Why target the youth?
Kenyan youths are largely unemployed yet these young minds have great potential when it comes to innovations and brilliant ideas. Due to unemployment, quite a number spend their free time indulging in drug abuse and other evils. By involving them, quite a number are able to overcome these challenges while at the same time generate income to boost their lives. The jobs we offer at times do not necessarily have to be sustainability related.
Any challenges encountered while working with the youths?
Youths are mostly attracted to jobs that offer them an immediate return. So the sustainability approach is not at first appealing to them.
How do you overcome this?
We engage them in Sustainability programs and forums that offer training that add value. This help them appreciate matters sustainability. The fact that eventually,the engagement offers employment for themalso keeps them active 24/7.
Majority of the people are less informed on the concept of sustainability, you have to thus serve as the eye-opener. At times this turns hectic as most people tend to be glued to their custom jobs and means of operation.
Is the government involved in your initiatives?
We seek for tenders to plant trees and flowers, for example in public parks beautification where the government seeks to create green spaces. Through this, we are able to offer jobs opportunities to the youth.
What factors do you consider where taking up a sustainability project
First and foremost the project should seek to promote environmental protection, for instance through waste management,value addition, or natural resource conservation, a good example the Ondiri swamp. Secondly the project need be income generating, to help boost the youths livelihoods.
Any advice to youths out there
Youth should not sit at home. They should engage for instance in youth, church groups for a startup that can generate income. Start something worthwhile you need not a large capital. Start at your level.