Networking Entrepreneur Inspires Others in the Kibera Slums

Stephen Ondieki Orioki is helping youth in his community recognize the opportunities available in networking technology.

Creating a New Pathway to Opportunity

In 2007, Cisco Networking Academy regional manager Hital Muraj undertook a bold effort to create an ICT skills training center in Kibera, the second largest slum in Africa, and one of nearly 200 slums that surround Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Despite a pressing need for basic necessities such as food, water, and sanitation, residents of Kibera shared Muraj's longterm vision and enthusiastically embraced the scheme.

Given the desperately low incomes of most inhabitants of Kibera, Muraj envisaged a self-supported educational center that would enable students to enroll in the Cisco IT Essentials course for free, or at a very low cost. She also sought support in the form of donated computers to create a student computer lab. As a result of these efforts and the support she received, an academy was opened at Raila Educational Centre and 80 students registered for Networking Academy courses during the first week of operation.

Graduate Uses Skills to Make a Difference

Stephen Ondieki Orioki is a graduate of the academy at Raila Educational Centre in Kibera. Orioki completed the IT Essentials course and free business training offered at the academy, which provides guidance in several areas including job seeking, entrepreneurship, and customer service.

Orioki used his career and technical skills to open a computer repair shop. He started running the business out of his home, with a computer he purchased with borrowed funds, and invited youth who were involved in deviant activities such as drugs and gambling to play computer games at the center and learn more about technology. "It's a place for them to socialize and think more positively," Orioki explains. " While they're here they can avoid situations that lead them in the wrong direction and might cause them to become just another sad story. Most of them can relate to me because I grew up in the neighborhood," he adds. "They see me overcoming the same challenges they face and they're motivated to try to make some changes themselves.”

A Regional IT Ambassador

Orioki has successfully expanded his business into three computer centers with 30 computers and four employees. He visits each center every morning and evening to make sure everything is working properly, and offers affordable computer skills training to help local youth develop technical skills. More than 400 students have completed courses at the centers, with an average of 30 students attending each class.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Orioki was invited to attend the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony in Oslo, Norway. “Stephen’s achievements inspired the selection team in the United States,” says Muraj, “and they chose him to represent the entire African region at the awards.”