Stories from the Field - K-YES

Strength of a Woman: Skills training enables drop-out to mint money from construction sector in Kericho

A school dropout and mother of three; Sharon defied all odds to build a successful company that serves as a source of income for others hence symbolizing youth transformation envisioned by K-YES Program.

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Sharon showcasing her representations of her work to governor Prof. Chepkwony and USAID’s Greg Weltz

SHARON Chepkoech showcases a building model at an exhibition for innovative products by vocational training institutions in Kericho County.

She is stealing the show at the event that also marks the official launch of the Kericho Youth Employment Compact – a peer-led consultative forum bringing together employers, trainers and government officials to advance youth employment and empowerment agenda
Hailing from a family of six, she aspired to be an engineer. Her dream was however deferred when she dropped out of primary school due to financial problems.

A mother of three and a proud founder of a successful construction company -  Jemily Constructions; she recalls how she used to undertake menial jobs at construction sites unaware that the effort  would gradually lead to fulfilment of her childhood dream.
 “It was a surprise to many.” She recalls. “They could not figure out how I was deeply involved in construction work, a profession largely associated with men.”

Though she worked hard and enjoyed it, lack of formal training hindered her progress. Like other youthful workers in the county, she earned less due to lack of formal qualifications.

Short competency based training piloted by K-YES in September 2017 was a stitch in time. Apart from gaining essential knowledge and skills on masonry, she benefitted from soft skills training, entrepreneurship drills; and information on financial access. 
The package helped her rebrand and package her company; made her more aggressive in her search for jobs; and rebuilt her focus as an employer for young people.

Currently, 16 young people are on Jemily’s payroll – two among them being women. The company has also undertaken successful projects in the area amounting to millions of shillings and recently won the admiration attention through an award to build a water tank in an institution in the area. 

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SHARON SHOWCASING TO others during the event

A school dropout and mother of three; Sharon defied all odds to build a successful company that serves as a source of income for other youth and households; hence symbolizing youth transformation envisioned by the program.

Since the onset of the program in 2015, the program has empowered over 23,000 youth with new or better jobs with Kericho accounting for 30% of the opportunities created.

The compact launch that was convened at the Kipsamumngut Vocational Training Center on 6th February attracted learners, community members and powerful delegations of vocational training technocrats, government officials and private sector representatives from Kericho and K-YES Phase I counties - Bungoma, Kericho, Garissa, Kwale and Nairobi.

The event that was graced by Governor Prof. Paul Chepwony and his deputy Susan Kikwai is a milestone for the program in relinquishing its active direct operations in the county and relegating the mandate to the Compact.


Big Leap: Trainee’s career choice inspires others to fellow youth to embrace blue collar jobs

“I am glad that many parents are using my track record as a reference point. They have noticed that it all depends on one’s attitude. Once you deal with it, success is inevitable.” – Rose Chemutai

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In the green tea growing County of Kericho: a garage with mechanics 

ON A SUNNY afternoon in the green tea growing County of Kericho; a garage near a popular roundabout is a beehive of activity. Mechanics mostly young people go about their business enduring the scorching sun.

They are diagnosing and fixing motor vehicle faults. The supervisor - Leonard Wesonga is keeping tabs on progress as he monitors the apprentices at the site.

One of them is capturing the admiration of clients.  Clad in green overalls, she goes around freely fastening bolts, greasing nuts and adjusting timing belt tensions. She is the only female in the pack and it is not easy to tell she is an apprentice.

Meet Rose Chemutai, 24 year old K-YES beneficiary who took a bold step of enrolling in a mechanics course. It was against expectations of her friends and family who thought she would opt for ‘conventional’ courses that include beauty therapy and tailoring.
In a country experiencing acute shortage of skilled artisans; her decision is paying off. Rose is winning the confidence of her colleagues and clients as a skilled mechanic. She has also been assured of employment once she completes her apprenticeship.
“She is very thorough in her work.” Notes Wesonga. “She is among the most outstanding apprentices at our site and we are obviously planning to retain her for fulltime employment.”

She is part of nearly 7,000 youth who have gone through skills training sponsored by US government through K-YES Program. Such trainings transforms beneficiaries’ lives, enabling them access better employment and inspire others in the community.
Although an apprentice; she makes modest income sufficient to cater for her basic needs that include meals, transport and basic necessities for her baby. Thanks to her progress in the male dominated profession, her institution is reporting more interest by female gender in pursuing male dominated courses.

“I am glad that many parents are using my track record as a reference point.” She reveals. “They have noticed that it all depends on one’s attitude. Once you deal with it, success is inevitable.”
During a recent launch of the Kericho Employment Compact – a consultative forum bringing together various stakeholders to advance youth employment agenda; Rose was part of the select youth beneficiaries who gave an account of how the program had transformed their lives.

She noted that though school drop-outs are largely stigmatized as failures; empowerment initiatives are proving effective in changing mindsets while leading to job access.
The Compact which enjoys the county government support is bound to spearhead youth empowerment agenda in the area as the program embarks on winding up its direct active role.

Contact: Silvano Ateka,


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