Hi Sammy. Thanks so much for talking with us today. So tell us, how did you get involved in STRYDE?
I have always had a big passion for youth development, which led me to work in the youth space all my adult life (except for a period of 6 months). I believe it’s important to provide a ‘hand up’ instead of ‘hand out’ and to create business solutions to help people improve their own lives. The vision, mission, and activities of STRYDE resonate with what I love doing with my time and my life.
So what is STRYDE?
STRYDE stands for Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise. It is a program created through the efforts of Technoserve and The Mastercard Foundation to deliver services to the rural youth including skills training, business development and mentoring.
What is your role in STRYDE?
I am a business advisor in charge of Aftercare in the STRYDE program. Aftercare is what happens after the STRYDE training and it has 5 key components:
1- Opportunity Identification for gainful employment for youth
2- Business Development Services to provide onsite visits and services to the youth
3- Business Plan Competitions to help youth turn small business ideas into sustainable realities.
4- Employability workshops and job fairs to train youth on employability skills and employment linkages through partners – like DUMA!
5- Financed meetings – to give youth diagnostic services for business finances
What is your favorite success story from work with STRYDE?
There’s this group in Kiawarigi in Karatina we met during a program called ‘Yes Youth Can.’ This group took up the skill of weaving mats with their hands and developed a business that makes mats. They make mats and now have good business – even Technoserve buys mats to give as Christmas gifts because they are so nice! Their organization is now called Kiawarigi STRYDE Youth Group and you can contact them for mats at 0725281378.
So you travel a lot for these workshops. How many hours per week do you think you drive?
Let’s talk in kilometers (because you never know with traffic) – On average, I think I drive 1000 – 1500 km a week.
Oh man! That’s rough. What is your favorite activity for the car?
Definitely listening to music – when the radio is working, or with my phone.
What is your favorite music?
Country music. Obviously!
What do you think the million-dollar question is these days regarding youth unemployment?
Well, the question youth ask is ‘where can I get a job.’
I think the big question goes back to the education system. How can we create education reform to build students who will be attractive for employment?
If you could pass one legislative bill in the country (that was guaranteed to happen!), what would it address?
I think it would be an overhaul of the education system to provide both soft and hard skills to youth. We need teachers to teach people how to create opportunities rather than to beg them to come to you.
If I could change one more thing, it would be to create a space for small ideas to grow and compete well in the market. Why does the farmer make the least profit from his cabbages when he works with them for 3 months and the retailer makes 50/- off each cabbage in one day? Why can’t the youth sell their chicken at prices that can sustain families? One of the things we do at Technoserve is to create economic hubs for groups to collaborate and make sustainable livelihoods. Still, this needs to happen on a national level.
If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?
Tell the youth that their personal success depends on them. It is not about what government, parents, or systems can do for you – it’s about using your talents and your god-given gifts to make something. The things around you are catalysts and speed the reaction but do not determine how the reaction goes.
What is your biggest pet peeve, or the thing that bothers you the most?
When we have done everything to have these young people to succeed – train them, provide necessary tools, provided advice – and yet, they don’t stand up for themselves and take up the challenge themselves. That is what keeps me awake at night, thinking about how they can change their attitude. Their attitude is their own success.
Where do you want to be in 10 years?
In terms of business development, I want to be a top business development consultant. I want to help companies look more closely at their bottom line social impact – so they look at their product as a way of changing people’s lives and not just about money.
Who is the biggest person to influence your life?
Apart from God – I want to be very honest – my wife. The years of our marriage have really influenced me – she’s strong, she’s a huge ball of life, and she’s the person who keeps me in check.
Thanks so much, Sammy, for that great interview. We wish you much success in everything and keep up the excellent work you’re doing with the youth!