Ajira graduands pose with their certificates during the event
by Mathew Ndeti
The Ajira Digital Program an initiative of the government of Kenya under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy today held a graduation for the first Cohort of 16 young women in the AjiraForShe Apprenticeship initiative in Nairobi.
Speaking during the graduation, Madam Priscilla Maina, Assistant Director State Department of ICT and Digital Economy said part of the focus of the government ICT masterplan is to establish the 1450 digital hubs across the country.
“Through the support of the Mastercard Foundation, we hope to enable more young people to access free digital tools across the country as we close the digital and gender divide. With the government target of digitizing over 5,000 services, the young people with digital skills will access digital and digitally-enabled work opportunities to earn a decent wage.”
A panel discussion during the graduation ceremony
While echoing Madam Priscilla’s comments, Anthony Karanja, Partner, Planning, Strategy and Digital Economy at Mastercard Foundation said there is need to focus on young women since they are less privileged compared to the other gender.
“As Mastercard Foundation we are committed to empowering over 30 million young people in Africa with 7 million of those being Kenyans, 70% of these being young women. The foundation is working to accelerate access to financial capital for young people particularly women to pursue diverse opportunities to live a meaningful and dignified livelihood. Digital economy has innumerable opportunities for young people especially young women as they are able to work from anywhere and make a dignified income. For Instance, a young lady from Mombasa by the name Celine Wawuda, who had dropped out of college due to lack of school fees signed up on the Ajira Program and trained on transcription which later saw her participate in the judiciary pilot digitization project which coupled with other online freelance opportunities enabled her to make a decent income to support herself and her family. Currently she has advanced her skills to a software developer which is a reality made possible through the Ajira Digital Program.”
Speaking on the same, Ken Mwenda, Managing Director eMobilis Technology Institute and co-founder noted the AjiraForShe Apprenticeship has been officially launched as the first cohort of 16 young women graduated under the theme; Making Digital Work a Reality for young Women.
“Just Like Faith Kipyegon, Kenyan athlete who won the gold medal title at the World Olympics happing in Budapest, the world is a platform for the women to conquer and the young women here today are exposed to limitless digital opportunities to conquer the world. To date, the Ajira digital program has seen over 350,000 young people trained and mentored with digital skills with 53% of these being young women. Out of the total trained, about 150,000 have been directly linked to digital work opportunities both in the Private Sector and the government. In fact, through the Ajira Pilot project with the judiciary, over 1500 young people trained under the program were deployed to courts across the country to deliver digital tasks including transcription, scanning and data entry aimed towards court digitization which has resulted in increased efficiency of service delivery in Kenyan the judicial system while creating digital work opportunities for young Kenyans.”
Dr. Ehud Gachugu, Project Director, Ajira Digital Program at KEPSA reiterated that, “we are currently working within a complex environment where there are no sufficient jobs and on the other hand employers are struggling to get young people with the relevant skills set.”
He added, “The first thing we all need to acknowledge is that the skills of yesterday cannot help solve the problems our businesses and economy are facing today. Young people need to put away the perception that there are not enough work opportunities and instead start thinking through the needs in society and businesses so that they can use their skills and talents to provide solutions. Having gone through Ajira Digital program, you have the tools necessary to maneuver in the labour market. This Apprenticeship Program gives young women an opportunity to learn from other businesses on how to be successful entrepreneurs. We can use this learning to make a difference in our society.”
The AjiraForShe Apprenticeship is an internship initiative driven by eMobilis Technology Training Institute, under the Ajira Digital program whose aim is to advance opportunities for young women in Kenya in the digital economy through building their confidence in taking up digital job opportunities, enhancing their already gained digital skills and expanding women’s access to quality career pathways through increased participation in apprenticeships. This has been made possible by the strategic collaborations with AjiraForShe partners that are Women Empowerment Organizations including Refushe, Nice Place Foundation, Madrasa Tulfalaha and Hope World Wide Kenya, who were involved in incubating the first cohort of digital interns.
Ajira Digital is a free program open to all young Kenyans who are looking to make a meaningful and fulfilling livelihood from digital and digitally enabled work opportunities.