A new initiative to empower Kenya’s youth through dialogue has been launched, with the hope of plugging the communication deficit between the country’s old guard and the bulging youth population.
Dubbed “Youth Connect with Jennifer Riria”, the programme is the brainchild of Jennifer Riria, a veteran entrepreneur and banker of many years.
Ms Riria is an award-winning entrepreneur whose name is synonymous with the country’s financial sector. She has served in different high profile capacities for more than 40 years, including founding Kenya Women Micro-finance Bank (KWFT) and Kenya Women Holding.
“This initiative aims to enlist experts in different professions to pass on critical insights to the youth as they rise to take up various leadership roles in the society,” said Riria during the inaugural convergence of the youth on Sunday.
Already, the initiative has brought legal experts, religious leaders and community mobilisers on board to steer the programme.
“There is nothing special that has been put aside for young people in this country. It is upon the youth to take the few available opportunities and run with them,” Riria said.
Ms Riria started the initiative in memory of her late daughter Cathy Makena who passed on 11 years ago at the prime of her career.
Lady Justice Martha Koome stressed the importance of integrity to young people as they jostle for position in the country’s social, political and economic spheres.
“In my many years in the legal practice, I have learnt that it is easy to fall when you lose the value of integrity. If you bribe today to have something done for you, you will never be able to avoid the temptation to take that improper route,” Justice Koome told the youth, warning that corruption ultimately exposes one’s back.
She added: “You should instead do ethical business. You don’t have to cut corners to get business deals.”
Youth Connect will be an annual event and organisers hope to convert it into a national movement that will enable Kenya’s youth to articulate their concerns and challenges.
“We need to have these dialogue with young people more often. And not to just dialogue but to be consistent in this endeavour for us to achieve any meaningful result,” Riria emphasised.