After gracing Meru, Nakuru and Eldoret regions, The Blaze BYOB Summit was finally in Machakos. The event that was held in The Machakos stadium was the fourth in the Blaze BYOB Season Two. BLAZE is a sub-brand of Safaricom and was created to give the youth aged 26 years and below products, services, and benefits tailored specifically to meet their everyday needs. The Blaze BYOB is a youth network aimed at empowering the youth to face their challenges in entrepreneurship and business head on and persevere through them. Over 2.2 million worth of cash has been given in support of deserving ventures that have shown potential to grow and originality. This year’s summits are pegged on the year’s theme which is G.R.I.T (Greatness Requires Internal Toughness).
The weather was definitely not on our side as heavy rain poured for the better part of the morning. This was however not enough to stop the crowd of youth who flocked the stadium in large numbers. Nobody was going to let the weather be a deterrent to the main agenda of the day. Different pod stations were set up in different tents where the mentors interacted with the youth. Under the tents was the agricultural pod station headed by Caleb Karunga who is a well-known Agriprenuer, the retail and business section with Wycliffe Waweru, the film and photography pod with Tosh Gitonga, the music pod with Jibril Blessing better known as J-Blessing a producer and videographer, the creative arts pod with Patricia Kihoro, the fashion pod with BYOB Season One winner, Vanessa Nekesa and Nick Ondu and the last pod was the Centonomy pod where financial experts took the youth through the various tips on how to manage their personal finances in and out of business.
People moved from one pod to the next as they listened to the life experiences, advice and tips given to them by the mentors. It was amazing to see a group of eager youth with great ideas seeking help on bringing these ideas to fruition from people who had been through similar experiences. The truth is not everyone gets the chance to get formal employment and thus people need alternative sources of income. These sentiments were echoed by Sylvia Mulinge the Director of Consumer Business at Safaricom.
‘About 1 million youth come into the job bracket every year, but those one million youth cannot be absorbed into formal employment. This forum gives them a chance to exploit their talents or business ideas as they are mentored and motivated by people who have walked the same path. Thus they can be able to take that step to turn their talents into careers,’ she said.
Auditions for the Blaze BYOB TV Show were also taking place as different youth presented their ideas for consideration for the 12 spots on the show. Over 300 participants had already been pre-screened in the pre-creation camps which had been held at the Machakos Hotel in October.
The afternoon session led by Mwalimu Racheal started with more interaction with the other mentors of the program who included Lyra Aoko, Abel Mutua, Njugush, and Brayan Matwana of the Matwana Bus Culture. Their tips all revolved around the theme G.R.I.T. Each of their experiences highlighting major challenges on their path to success which they overcame by working hard, smart and keeping your eye on the prize.
‘If you are trying to make it in your industry, you have to be tough. You cannot let your goals down. All it takes is one moment to get your big break.’ Patricia Kihoro, actor and radio presenter.
Another amazing thing that caught my eye was the selected performances from young local artists. Through their Facebook page, Safaricom had reached out to the people and asked them which local undiscovered musicians they would like to see perform at the summit. It was a great opportunity to get their music out there as well as build their confidence as performers.
However, all work and no play definitely makes Jack a dull boy. It was not all lessons and teaching, as top Kenyan artists such as Nyashinski, King Kaka, Khalighraph, Timmy T-dat, and Femi One graced the stage and provided an array of entertainment that set the crowd in bouts of joy.
So if you are a youth aged 18-26 years old and you have an idea that has the potential to become great, you should definitely go for these summits. Listening to Vanessa, last year’s 19-year-old winner of the BYOB TV Show winner, narrate her experiences was a testament to the positive results of this forum. In the period of a year, she seemed to have accumulated a lifetime of business knowledge and expertise even at her young age. She, however, acknowledged her continued learning process.
The next Blaze BYOB is set to be held in Mombasa then Nairobi and then hopefully in Kakamega.