Accelerators

Sote Hub wants to turn Kenyan high school students into business owners one county at a time

Sote ICT Program

Since 2013, Sote ICT has been operating in Taita Taveta county where 12 schools have been part of the program. During those four years, the program has benefited 6,000 members from 12 ICT clubs that are supported by 28 training firms. The program has received international support from Slovak Center for Training Firms and Slovak Aid both from Slovakia as well as Pontis Foundation and Practice Enterprises Network (PEN). The county government of Taita Taveta led by Governor John Mruttu has also played a huge supporting role to this noble program.

The voluntary training teaches students fundamentals of running a business. The trainees are rotated through all the different aspects of modern firms such as marketing, finances, human resource and also management. They learn how to make partnerships, business plans, accounting documents; create brochures, video adverts, blogs and even business cards.

Trade Fair

Governor Mruttu, Taita Taveta, inspecting a business booth at the Sote ICT Trade Fair

As part of the program, students get to compete in a trade fair where they showcase their business ideas to support partners, the county government, potential investors and the media. This year’s Sote ICT Trade Fair was held at Coast Institute of Technology in Voi Town. We had the pleasure of attending the event and witness the 26 business ideas presented by high school students from the area. The ideas ranged from tour guide companies, banking , insurance, environmental conservation companies, solar water heaters, photo and video production companies as well as studying platforms. Sote ICT goes as far as getting actual companies to partner with their students to offer mentorship and direction as they nature their business projects. Some of the well known partners include KCB Bank and Madison Insurance. Local firms also offer partnership; some of them are Sofi’s World and Rogim Designs (alumni of Sote Hub).

It was amazing to see very young students with really innovative ideas backed with proper documents such as invoices, well detailed and colorful brochures, samples of their work professionally displayed on their booth, vibrant and passionate CEO’s explaining the ideas and not to forget the very convincing marketers that would steal you from one exhibition room to the other in order to show you their stall.

Jakub Simek and Ivana Ulicna from Pontis Foundation award one of the schools’ teachers

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Prizes were won for different categories including best stall presentation, best documentation, best representative and finally the best business idea.  The 10 best ideas are then filtered and enrolled into Sote Hub. The top three ideas were:

  1. Chop Smart EDTech app from Mwaghogho High School – its an app that helps students study better and more efficiently.
  2. Green Mazingira Merchants from Mwaghogho High School – their idea is to turn plastic waste into beautiful office décor
  3. Mutheu Enterprise from Murray Girls High School

As a bonus, teachers that did exemplary work to help the students get their projects ready for the trade fair were also rewarded.

Sote Hub

Sote Hub is the next step for students whose ideas stand out. 20 ideas are currently incubating in the Hub, 8 of them are already post seed.  The Hub has partnered with other notable incubation centers such as Swahili Box and iHub. I was assured that the hub is not only reserved to Sote ICT students, it is also open to other people who have ideas, startups or simply those who want to keep abreast with technology. Slovak Aid is the main donor and has provided financial support for this project since inception.a

The future

With such a beneficial program, the goal is to reach as many young people as possible. According to the UN, 77.9% of workers in Kenya in 2014 were employed in the informal sector, there is therefore a dire need to train the youth on how they can be business owners based on their talents and other informal attributes. Therefore, Sote ICT program is needed now more than ever by students everywhere.

David Ogiga, Director of Sote Hub “We started out in Voi since we wanted to bridge the gap of poor academic performance of the area with practical IT and business skills, we are now looking into expanding to Kwale and other counties in the future” . David also expressed his desire to partner with the Cabinet Secretary of Education to roll out the Sote ICT program into more institutions as part of the initiative of the government to equip high schools with computer labs. “ With computers satisfying the need for hardware in the school labs, our program would complement the students with the content and curriculum to be taught in those labs.”

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