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Marketing student Fredrick Mulli discusses leading Youth+Africa company

Fourth year marketing student, of the School of Management and Commerce, Fredrick Mulli Juma, is passionate about empowering the youth, aiming at ensuring the unemployment margin is reduced in the country and continent at large.

Borrowing from his academic journey at Strathmore, Fredrick together with a group of young friends aged 25-30, formed a company that trains and provides the necessary skills for startups and growing entrepreneurships, in an effort to boost young businesses.

How has your Strathmore experience been like?

My experience at Strathmore has been quite enjoyable, coming from Strathmore School for my highschool, I managed to adjust well into the university setup.

When did you Start Youth+Africa and why?

Youth + Africa begun in 2011 as an idea, it was not until 2015 when along with a group of 8 friends, we decided to get things going. We organized an entrepreneurship conference for young aspiring and established entrepreneurs within Nairobi County.

It began mainly to address youth unemployment problems we ourselves are facing. Research states that only 40% of graduating students get a job within the first year after they graduate, leaving a large 60% unaccommodated for, a big problem for us. We therefore started Youth + Africa with the aim of building the capacity of startups and SMEs to the extent where they have the ability to absorb much larger amounts of human capital, reducing unemployment.

The Journey of the company…

The journey thus far has been very difficult, we have our highs and low moments.

Getting the right team in place was our biggest challenge; we had about four different evolutions of the teams we worked with, but we have finally settled. Another challenge was getting the support of partners and organizations we approached, it took us about four years before anyone wanted to be a part of what we had in mind. It was still an idea, a concept on paper, we had not done anything more. We had to plan something to get visibility, so we worked on our first conference last year.

The training was great, we worked with 47 entrepreneurs. Over the three days of training, the team got mentorship from about 13 different coaches and executives. Since then, we managed to learn and grow allowing us to train a total of 139 young people in Nairobi and Kiambu Counties, building the momentum slowly while ensuring we get better as we progress.

Which corporates partnered with you?

The corporates we worked with included; Nairobi City Council, Resolution Insurance, Airtel Kenya, Nestle EA region office, the British Council, and ABTEI (Adebisi Babatunde Thomas Entrepreneurship Institute – aided by Strathmore Business School)

What is your role at Youth+Africa?

I work as the team lead, making sure that everyone’s job is easier. I support all of our three departments; Conferences, Programs and Marketing.

How has Strathmore aided your participation at Youth+Africa?

Strathmore has been of tremendous help with this company. Since 1st year, the university emphasized on the importance of independence and the ability to work with other people. This gave me a level of discipline that helped me in making decisions as an individual and for the company.

The lecturers and my mentors also aided my steps by giving me feedback and guiding me on what to do and what not to do. The mentors outside the classroom added value to what we are doing, ultimately providing value to our clients.

What motivates you to keep going at the company, especially when things are difficult?

As a team we are motivated by the potential to change one world, or one person’s world, giving a domino effect of changing the world at large. Training the number of people we have has been challenging but we get our satisfaction when a trainee thanks us for the lessons learnt, that improved their businesses. There is an unquantifiable benefit we get from playing our role, a sense of responsibility we have to ensure youth are catered for.

Where do you see your company in the near future?

We see ourselves as an impactful resource that grows the whole continent. African economies are struggling, so we hope we can be able to have a presence across the continent, addressing youth unemployment.

Who do you look up to?

One of my biggest role models is my mother. It takes a lot of courage to let your child take evening classes and run a startup business during the day. She has also allowed us to rent a room in her home that gives us an opportunity to work from an office. Her faith in us has propelled us to be confident in what we do. She gives us advice, criticizes us, and guides us on what to do. As much as she may be obliged to support me because I’m her child, she has gone above and beyond to assist me and I am grateful.

I am also grateful for the support I get from the faculty at Strathmore. Ms. Dorcas Otieno and Ms. Thritty Engineer taught me marketing and have been instrumental in guiding this project. Dr. Monica Kerrets Makau, a faculty of the graduate school, and Mrs. Elishiba Msengeti Poriot guided me and gave me feedback and advice on where to go. They have contributed to some of our programs, given us references that can attend our events etc. they propelled us in building the company into where we are today.

A lot of the times you think the relationship a student has with the university is to come to school and go home, but Strathmore has been instrumental in providing more than just education. I am truly grateful for Strathmore.

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