From Typing to Coding, Kids Comp Camp helps young learners in Africa’s underserved communities access quality computing training, right in their community, to empower them to explore new opportunities in technology. This company was formed by Caleb Ndaka in a bit to devolve the learning of technology and digital skills, which was a challenge he faced as a fresh-out-of-high-school graduate, residing in a rural area. Kids Comp Camp has trained a little north of 7000 young learners. Caleb Ndaka spoke to techmoran about this accomplishment and his plans to advance the program in the future.

Tell us about yourself, your team, educational background.
My name is Caleb Ndaka. I’m a graduate of JKUAT school of Computer Science and Information Technology. I lead a team of 5 to roll out an initiative dubbed ‘Kids Comp Camp’. Kids Comp Camp is a proud program of The Africa Centurion Initiative, a Nonprofit registered in Kenya. The Africa Centurion Initiative seeks to help Africa’s underserved communities improve livelihoods through technology and entrepreneurship.

How would you describe your company? What does it do, what is its main objective?
From typing to coding, Kids Comp Camp helps young learners, below 18, in Africa’s underserved communities access quality computing training, within their communities, to empower them to explore new opportunities in technology. Designed to travel and camp in a local community, Kids Comp Camp partners with local institutions to host the tech after-school programs. To sustain the impact in the community, we train the wider adult community (especially the teachers, parents, and the youth) on in demand tech and entrepreneurial skills to empower them be well equipped support system to kids in their community as well as improve their livelihood through pursuing opportunities in the digital economy. All this is anchored around our mission to empower the local community to empower their own..

What motivated you start Kids Comp Camp?
After High School, I was out of school for four (4) years because I could not afford my college fees. During the 4 years I lived with my family in our rural village. Over that period, Life was tough. I had to do hard core jobs such as burning charcoal and making bricks for sale, to make ends meet. Though these experiences I encountered first hand many accounts of extreme poverty in my own community. Later when I got a chance to join university school of computer science, I was very keen to see how the knowledge I was gaining could be used to address at least a biting need in my community. I believe education is a basic need that none should miss, especially in this digital era where its more accessible and interactive. Technology literacy is a tool many can use to learn on their own regardless of their location on what really matters to them. This is the reason have dedicated my life to help Africa’s underserved communities embrace technology for their community development.

kids in Kabuku Primary School during one of the first Kids Comp Camp training sessions.

What had been the greatest challenge you faced since the inception of the company?
The greatest challenge faced so far is cracking our sustainability model. We constantly ask ourselves how do we ensure Kids Comp Camp serves its purpose to serve young able minds in underserved communities and still remain sustainable both in resources and impact. The first two years we lived on crowdfunding and grants. Last year we initiated an income generating activity by diversifying to also train adults in communities we work in. So now we’re employing both approaches to raise resources we need to operate and scale up.

How has winning the FIRE Africa Awards boosted the growth of Kids Comp Camp so far?
FIRE Africa Awards is helping us implement our next phase which is to scale our work to at least one community in each of the 47 counties in Kenya #1in47 targeting to sustainably impact 20,000 beneficiaries by 2020 #Vision20k.

How many volunteers and kids are in the program at the moment?
Since inception in 2014, Kids Comp Camp has reached out to more than 7000 young learners, under 18, in Kenya and Rwanda. For a whopping 90% of the trained learners, this was their first time to use a computer and 54% of the trainees were girls. More than 1000 community and campus trainers have been mobilised, trained and deployed in various communities helping to train kids in 55 primary schools in 10 and 5 community children centers in Kenya and Rwanda.

How do you finance the operation to remain sustainable? Since you are not charging the kids.
At the beginning of the year 2017 we announced plans to diversify Kids Comp Camp to also serve adults in the communities we work with. And the reason was one, to strengthen support system of Kids we serve by also training the teacher, parent and older brothers/sisters to support them and two, pilot a revenue model to support the Kids program which is offered at no cost from the Kids. The focus remain on the kids but now for adults who love them too.
Through brand name ‘Kompyuta Mashinani (Swahili for computers to the grassroots). Apparently, Kids Comp Camp is a tongue twister for most locals adults? (Kids get it very fast, adults don’t). We now offer 8 weeks, 2 hours a day training at an affordable and flexible fee of 30 USD, (Kshs. 75 ($0.75) per day) per participant. To remain sustainable we target cohorts of 50+ participants. In-person classes runs throughout the day and the participants attend in shifts of 2 hours when they are most available.