Nanette on Nairobi’s Hopeful Youth


On Nanette’s fourth day in Nairobi, she and three other Kiva fellows visited a non-profit organization that teaches disadvantaged youth the skills they need to land jobs and make a living. The Community and Progress Youth Empowerment Institute (CAP-YEI) caters to dropouts, unemployed graduates, street youth, retrenched workers, and pretty much any young person at risk of falling through the cracks. These young people can take vocational courses in information technology, hospitality, automobile, customer relations, and sales. Note: dropout here doesn’t have the same connotation it usually does in the United States. It refers to students that drop out of school not because they don’t want to attend but because their family can’t afford to pay tuition.

The front of the CAP school.

Fredrick is a recent CAP graduate who received and fully paid back his first Kiva Zip loan of $125. After finishing CAP, Fredrick set up a stall at a busy intersection in Nairobi selling used clothes. He pays the city a hundred Kenyan shillings a week or a little over one US dollar for a vendor’s permit. After using his first Kiva Zip loan to set up his small business, which has a Facebook page and makes deliveries to customers, Fredrick told Nanette he wants another loan to buy more used items to sell, like sandals. Nanette’s friend Safia bought a pink pair of Nike shorts from him for 200 shillings at the end of their visit.

Fredrick’s clothes stall.
Nanette posing with a pair of pink Nike shorts next to Fredrick and a CAP administrator.

Nanette visited another borrower also named Fredrick who’s still studying in CAP creates and sells practice worksheets for primary school students. He sells each sheet of simple math questions for 20 shillings or a little over 20 US cents.

CAP runs schools in Nairobi, Nyeri, and Naivasha. Its Nairobi location offers classes in electrical wiring, hospitality, and security. Other locations have customer service, garments, and manufacturing classes.

“Their goal when they open a new center is to make sure the majority if not all the kids they teach, land a job. That’s their main goal. That’s their metric,” said Nanette. “So they don’t just randomly choose a place that has a lot of kids that don’t go to school. They also find a location where there are kids and there are also industries to support them.”

The persistence and optimism of CAP’s instructors and students inspired Nanette tremendously.

“It’s nice to see real change,” she said. “They track their students. Where they go. What they’re doing. How a Kiva Zip loan can be a big part of it because a lot of students want to start their own businesses. To see two borrowers doing really well, improving their lives and going back to school — you can see the real impact.”

Since Kiva Zip has given only 12 loans so far to CAP graduates, CAP wants to expand this partnership to give more of their students money to bootstrap their entrepreneurial ideas. They cite their young borrowers’ one hundred percent repayment rate and point out the many other graduates that also have a lot of potential.

“I’m very impressed with the students. They’re poor, but they’re so motivated, polite, hopeful, and positive. All of them spoke up [in class],” Nanette said excitedly. “They kept asking us about Kiva loans. They shared how the school has changed their lives and what they want to do after they graduate.”

“I’m not exaggerating. Everybody was sitting in their seat paying attention and taking notes. Everybody has books. Everybody was writing down stuff. And these are dropout kids who are poor!”