Vigor Awards 2020 Nominee
I’m a Kenyan finance professional working as the Group Credit Controller with the leading water and energy solutions company in the East African region called Davis & Shirtliff Limited.
Besides this, I have a great passion for youth and as a CSR, during my free time, I run a mentorship program for university and college students as well as those who graduated not long ago. I do this under the name Royal Youth Mentorship Program (RYMP).
I target the age group of 20-30yrs old, and we cover many topics that range from life skills, careers, relationships, leadership, dealing with social media, etc. We have been doing this with my wife since 2011 and we have mentored many youths especially during their courtship journeys. In April 2019, a couple we were mentoring during their courtship challenged us to come up with a way of reaching more youths who would benefit from the mentorship and so we formed a WhatsApp group and asked them to invite their friends. The group grew and in August same year we decided to invite them to our house for supper and a face to face meet up (whole night) since we didn’t know each other. This turned out to be a transformative experience and so we continued with the night sittings once every two months. By the end of 2019, the group had grown to 40 and so decided not to admit any more due to space constraints in our house.
When COVID-19 struck Kenya earlier this year, our president announced a dusk to dawn curfew restricting the movement of people between 7pm to 6am in the morning. This coincided with our next meeting and so I started wondering what was to happen to the program. We had already become closely knit and so I couldn’t imagine not meeting them for months. It’s around this time I heard of zoom video conferencing App and gotcha! I knew I had gotten a solution. I also realized this presented me with an opportunity to bring someone else to inspire the youths on areas I’m less competent on.
I set up the first meeting on 10th April and asked the youths to invite their friends whom we had closed out. I also reached out to two of my friends to help me handle some topics the youths had asked for and both accepted my invite. I now had to set two consecutive meetings and so I set up the second one 2 days later, on 12th April. After the 2nd meeting, the youths started asking when the next was and so I realized what I was offering was badly needed. I quickly looked for a 3rd guest and the cycle continued.
For the next one and a half months, I run these mentorship sessions once every two days without fail and thereafter fixed them to Tue, Thur & Sat 8-9pm (EAT) which is happened for the next 3 months. About 3 weeks ago, we reduced the frequency of the mentorship sessions from 3 to 2 per week now fixing them to Tue & Sat only since the country has reopened and people are now a bit engaged on other activities.
The Driving Force
While I did not at any moment sit down to plan running a comprehensive mentorship program as this has turned out to be now, the immediate closure of colleges and universities followed by the introduction of curfew kept me asking myself what the youths would be doing with so much idle time. I saw a lot of negative energy surge in social media and felt an urge to push myself and engage the youths with some quality content in the evenings as frequently as I could. I, therefore, decided to make the program very consistent so that the youths are sure of a safe space several days a week. I also realized that many people that youths would be looking up to were also readily available in the evenings’ thanks to the curfew and so I decided to maintain high frequency in order to get as many as possible within the shortest time. This has worked perfectly, and we have been getting very resourceful speakers and only two have come back a second time 5 and a half months later even though many are willing.
As at today 22nd Sep 2020, Five and a half months from our start date, we have managed to conduct 69 mentorship sessions and the responses have been amazing. We have had amazing guests so far and by God’s grace, we’ve continued getting very resourceful guests who are experts in various fields. We always ensure the youths get an opportunity to interact with these speakers through Q&A sessions.
Some of the popular speakers we’ve been privileged to host are Waihiga Mwaura (A news anchor with the leading National TV), Prof. Bitange Ndemo (Former Cabinet Secretary Silicon Valley fellow and expert on artificial intelligence), Mercy Masika (Leading Gospel Musician and UN ambassador), Prof. PLO Lumumba (Listed the most influential Public speaker in Africa multiple times), etc. We have several other national and international figures queued to speak to us in the next few days.
The topics we have focused on are those that empower the youths in career, business, relationships, life skills, etc. Whereas the target age group is 20-30-year olds, we have seen increased interest in the program by the 30-40-year-olds too, showing the gap we are filling is much bigger than we even thought.
Besides the mentorship sessions, we have also been running accountability and feedback sessions every two weeks where we allow the Youths to share the lessons learnt and actions they have taken after listening to the speakers. We have so far had 9 of such sessions and we have been receiving some amazing stories of success. Some of these are cases where the youths have moved from despair to income generation despite the corona pandemic. Below is a list of 5 cases that I have sampled from the feedback I have been receiving from the youths.
- Caroline Wanjiru (Kenyan)- Was at the verge of depression when our paths crossed. She got inspired to resuscitate a talent she had in drawing and now she has received orders to draw so many people that her problem is getting enough time to do it. She recently had a rare privilege to meet a celebrated news anchor who once spoke in our program to present him with a picture that she drew for him and the celebrity wife. Below is a photo of her making the delivery to the couple.
- Sammy Mureti (Kenyan)- He lost his contract teaching job because of COVID 19 and went back to the village. Our program inspired him to start a small business in selling timber. He now has a timber yard and is in the process of starting a small business in selling timber. He now has a timber yard and is in the process of starting a workshop.
- Lindiswa Fini (South African)- She works in Qatar & has been tuning in to our programs due to excessive idle time thanks to Corona. She was inspired to learn to code and has now created a webpage for herself despite having no prior IT skills.
- Paul Kimani (Kenyan)- He was aspiring to get into Media but didn’t know how until he listened to two of our speakers who are media personalities and was inspired to act. He now hosts a show in a new online TV.
- James Maina (Kenyan)- A writer who was stuck on completing his second book got the inspiration to complete and publish it. He has now set a new target to write 1 book per year the next
The experience I have gotten so far has shown me there is a very big gap that needs to be filled to empower the youths with the necessary life skills to enable them to become self-reliant and make positive contributions to the wellbeing of the nation. I have also learnt the needs are not only in Kenya but all over since our audience has grown and we have regular listeners tuning in from all the continents. This is evident with cross-cultural membership we are having in some four WhatsApp Groups that we have created for those who follow our programs. We also have a Facebook Page and Group with a combined following of 3.3K youths.
My desire is to create a platform which can act as a sharper and a steppingstone for these youths in their journey to destiny. Am currently working a plan to bring together like-minded mentors who would be willing to do personalized mentorship to so many youths that have been reaching out to me asking for the same. I am confident where there is will there is a way and I have no doubt I’ll achieve anything I set my eyes to. Anything that can help me reach more and more youths is welcome and I will give it my all.
Email: [email protected] Phone: +254721904932
Facebook: Matthew Mugoh Twitter: @MatthewMugoh
Instagram: @matthewmugoh LinkedIn: @Matthew Mugoh
For the Mentorship program, the social media handles are: Facebook & LinkedIn: Royal Youth Mentorship Program YouTube: Royal Mentorship Program