Ongoza campaign

Leadership is pegged on the ability to influence individuals, families, organizations, communities and even nations. Everything, we believe, rises and falls on leadership. That is why at ELF we are obsessed with adding tools to the toolbox of young emerging leaders to prepare them for sustainable development of their societies.

Since 2012 to date, we have passionately been churning out values-based leaders across the country, deploying them in their spheres of influence to cause impact.

We are looking to raise 105 million during the Ongoza campaign to enable us scale up our program and shape the future of Kenya.


In our 7 years of existence, 461 young people have directly been trained and mentored, but here is our key milestone; 108 initiatives have been started across the country. These include; businesses, CBO’s, NGO’s, community empowerment projects, pressure groups etc., which have led to societal transformation, job creation and sustainable livelihoods for hundreds of young people.

Our purpose is to build agency within every youth who comes into our program, to capacitate them to look at their environment and become solution providers; It is worth noting that 98% of our alumni are currently employed, running their own initiatives or involved in volunteerism.

42% of the average 65% alumni who join the program while not involved in anything, have started their own businesses and initiatives. 34% have been employed while another 21% are currently volunteering in different organizations.

Our Case: 

Kenya is very youthful country. The median age is 19 years, and about 80% of the population is below 35 years. To a large extent, this youthful population will determine the shape of the country’s future.

According to a survey by the Aga Khan University; 50% of the youth believe it doesn’t matter how one makes money as long as one does not end up in jail. 47% admire those who make money through hook and crook, 30% believe corruption is profitable, 73% fear to stand up for what is right for fear of retribution, while 35% of the youth would readily take or give a bribe.

That is the bad news, but here is the good news; in our 7 years of existence, and 461 directly trained, we have reached 8,000 youths. Each of our fellows is assigned a mentor who walks with them in their journey of leadership. 84% of our alumni have organized or participated in community service initiatives, taking responsibility of their communities. 61% of our alumni who joined the program while employed, took up new leadership roles during or after the program. Our program has the potential of scalability, as 78% of our alumni are currently mentoring at least 5 other young people. And of those who go through the program, 98% recommend others to join the program.

Building the Future: 

We foresee a future where young people everywhere take charge of their society, starting their own initiatives, being responsible and sustainably responding to the challenges around them. We see youth taking over leadership and leading with values, young people who can be trusted to keep their promise, who approach leadership as a service to the people, young people who embrace team work, are proud of their African identity and believe that only the best is good enough for Africa. In short, we dream of dignified societies with values-based leaders.


Our model is based on the theory that an individual is best fit to drive social change in their community only after self-discovery, which in turn enables them to connect with others for impact.

Discover: – to lead others, you must first discover and master yourself. We guide participants through sessions of self-awareness.; life mapping and story telling where they get to share narratives from their personal life journeys. This process enables the young leaders to know their purpose in life.

Connect: – establishing a connection with people is the first step to having influence in many communities. We impart our young leaders with communication, debating and personal branding skills for a good first impression. We also help the leaders to connect to fellow leaders, creating a critical mass of change makers.

Impact: – leadership is about results. We guide our mentees to develop individual and collective agency i.e. the ability to take purposeful initiative, each of them becomes a solution in their societies.

We have tested the above theory for the last 7 years and seen it work, as shown in the data previously shared. We believe that with enough resources, we will scale up our program to all the 8 regions of Kenya and reach 7500 youths in 2020. In 10 years, we should have impacted 1,000,000 youths, in the process we will effectively shape the future of Kenya with young people who are rooted in values and are responsible enough to start their own initiatives.

We are asking for 105 million to scale up our program to the 8 regions of Kenya, where we will recruit 200 young emerging leaders and train them in two cohorts of 100.

Why ELF?

So far, we have received credible commendations, mentions and rewards from the following;

  • In July of 2018, President Barrack Obama mentioned the work of ELF to the whole world. Stating that we are part of Africa’s new stories, dutifully taking part in the work of ending poverty and promoting human dignity.
  • We also received the Diversity and Inclusion Award for “Youth in Leadership”, commending our work in ensuring that young people are equipped for leadership and dedicating ourselves to fostering the inclusion of young people in all spaces in society.
  • Recently, the Voice Achievers Award awarded us with, OUTSTANDING AFRICAN IMPACT AWARD WINNER OF THE YEAR 2019, for “your tremendous contribution to impacting the lives of young people in Kenya by providing them with adequate trainings and skills to become future leaders of today and tomorrow. You have excelled in your various engagements within the country which includes promoting human capacity, engaging in business enterprise and charity works thereby giving positive representation of Kenya to the rest of the world.”
  • During a recent expo by My Leader Kenya dubbed “Vijana na Biashara” we merged winner in the category of organizations that are empowering lives of the youth.

How can you take part in the Ongoza Campaign? 

You can make this possible by:

  1. Attending the gala dinner (Register Here)
  2. Or picking any of our sponsorship packages (Sponsorship package) .

Act now to secure the future;




There have been different forums that have given the stakeholders an opportunity to express their views on how we should best implement this new system of education through the county and national dialogues. As early as last week I got an opportunity to engage at the Kenyatta University on the placement of the universities in implementation of the CBC. With the celebration of International Youth Week whose theme was transforming education, different young people across the country were able to give their views and opinions on the new curriculum.

The question then becomes, what is the data that was collected from the youth in this country. What do we understand about the 8-4-4 and how ready are we to embrace the new curriculum. The truth is young people are aware that we have a problem especially with the current system of education in relation to exploring socio-economic opportunities. As summarized by Dear Little Sisters, an organization keen to rescue young women, “The 8.4.4 system was more theoretical than practical. It prepares students to be employees rather than employers. With increased sensitization on the importance of higher education, there are many graduates every year necessitating CBC.”

The youth however raise several challenges that we feel need to be addressed and offered recommendations for this system to be successful. First, the human capital in form of teaching staff. It is key that even as we transition into the new curriculum, there is a fair balance between the student- tutor ratio. Every child regardless of their physical location should access a trained tutor to foster their development. Regarding the trained teachers, there have been complaints by KNUT that the training offered is not adequate enough, mechanisms should be put in place to ensure training of trainers occurs to enable individual tutors confidently execute the new curriculum.

Resources have always been a challenge in the education sector. With the new system that is more engaging and hands on, the ministry and government should ensure all students in the country have access to the required materials, facilities and infrastructure. Citing one example of Makueni County, there is a shortage of 896 teachers in primary and 2252 teachers in secondary schools which will act as a stumbling block to the effective implementation of the CBC. The budget allocation to education should be increased to allow for communication, engagement and facilitation of the process.

In conclusion, the youth are in support of the implementation of the CBC. We offer the above recommendations if the system is to be successful.

 As we end this article, I wish to pose a challenge; we continue to speak about the failure of the 8-4-4 system, what are the interventions in place for those still engaging in the 8-4-4 system and will do so for approximately the next ten years?

Let us view the CBC as an alternative and not necessarily the solution to the different problems in this country. The truth and reality is it will be a long while before the results are observed.


The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming education”, highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” –, International Youth Day 2019 will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education so that it becomes a powerful tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Inclusive and accessible education is crucial to achieving sustainable development and can play a role in the prevention of conflict. Indeed, education is a ‘development multiplier as it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or peaceful societies. Education should lead to relevant and effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work, but also for the opportunities – and challenges – that rapidly changing social contexts bring.

The crucial role that quality education plays in youth development is well recognized. In addition, comprehensive youth development benefits society-at-large. However, what is less known is the fact that young people themselves are active champions of inclusive and accessible education.  Youth-led organizations, as well as individual youth, together with various stakeholders and Governments, are concretely transforming education so that it becomes a fundamental tool both for sustainable development and for the full inclusion of various social groups. For example, youth-led organizations are transforming education via lobbying and advocacy, partnerships with educational institutions, the development of complementary training programs, etc.

Apply for Cohort 8 here!


Millennials stand up, this is the hour

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A United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN Desa) analysis report, ‘World Population Prospects 2017’, shows that people born after Year 2000, commonly referred to as Generation Z, will next year constitute 32 per cent of the world’s population, surpassing Millennials, or Generation Y, who will comprise 31.5 per cent.

Millennials are the demographic cohort following Generation X. They were born between the early 1980s and the mid ’90s to early 2000s.

Next year, the first batch of circa one million Kenyans born in 2001 will turn 18, the age of majority. And whereas, the world will wait till next year to experience this phenomenon, Kenya’s Generation Z have already surpassed Millennials as we are a child-rich nation, with slightly over half of the population under 18.

Millennials (Yours Truly included), with their exceptionalism and self-centredness, must contend with the fact that they are not only old but also a minority that ought to give way to Generation Z — a people who have never known a non-digital world, have a more global thinking, are less self-centred, are tech-savvy and entrepreneurial.


Millennials are now the elders of this generation (by the way, you don’t argue with age; no one wins). Already, there’s no room for passing the blame to the generation ahead as Millennials assume watch over the nation and, therefore, take on national responsibility.

With a background of such an epic demographic handover on the homestretch, the nation is also plagued with a host of other challenges threatening its very existence — including massive unemployment, an unbearable national debt, fledgling leadership and an economy in turmoil.


Policymakers, educators and the private sector had just cracked an understanding of the Millennials, and here we are, with the arrival of a different generation in a country now seemingly lost at sea.

The political front is amorphous; you can’t tell head from tail, government and opposition — a larger Jubilee group with three formations: A (Kitaeleweka), B (Tangatanga) and C (Tingatinga). In addition, we have a weakened civil society, a rogue Parliament and an apathetic electorate.

Millennials now have the singular task of leading the charge in shouldering the largest national debt any generation of Kenyans has ever serviced, defend civil liberties and revive the economy before Generation Z takes the baton of the republic.


But as this is happening, the rest of the world is preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0); a technological revolution riding on Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that will fundamentally alter the way we live in a scope, scale and complexity never experienced by Mankind before.

No one knows how that will unfold as yet but the response to this must be integrated and comprehensive involving polity, public, academia, private sector and civil society.

And with Kenya at a crossroads, grappling with a present too complex, the future is bleak — unless Millennials show up for duty with diligence, determination and discipline. For this is their hour!

Mr Maliba is a programme manager at Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF). Twitter: @ArnoldMaliba

Courtesy of:–this-is-the-hour/440808-4764584-lyknnez/index.html


On the 17th of July 2018 the world congregated in Johannesburg to celebrate the 100th birthday of an iconic man who conquered all odds to champion for the freedom of south Africa and the end of apartheid, a man who alongside other compatriots brought healing to the people of south Africa. Nelson Madiba Mandela.

And who better to give the keynote lecture on this day than President Barrack Obama? On the back drop of this celebration was the coming together of two hundred young African leaders from across the continent who are change agents in their communities, they had been brought together under the auspices of the Obama Foundation whose mission is to inspire, empower and connect people to change their world.

Among the two hundred young leaders sitting in south Africa to discuss the issues of our continent and possible interventions was the audacious young Kenyan, Caren Wakoli who is the founder and executive director of Emerging Leaders Foundation – a non-governmental organization based in Kenya that offers all round training and mentorship on leadership to the youth in Kenya.

It was both humbling and exciting to hear president Obama recognize our work on this important day, this level of affirmation acts to fan our passion to see to fruition the work of leadership transformation in Kenya and Africa.


In our six years of existence, we have reached over 7,000 young people, from different counties who are causing impact in different sectors – We have deliberately designed a leadership training and mentorship experience for individuals to impact their communities and for interns or entry-level workers to muster necessary skills to thrive in life. We equip the youth with knowledge and skills to enable them to constructively participate in governance and policy processes.




“From Noise to Voice & Impact”


Kenya has a youthful population and currently, 60% of the populace fall below 35years of age. With high levels of unemployment, the youth are thus the most affected. This translates to high dependency ratio and low savings which impacts on the investments that can be made. At the national level, the youth put a strain on resources directed towards health, security and education and this makes it impossible to channel resources to long term development projects.

The passage of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 ushered in a new governance dispensation in the country. It is credited to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the continent and the on-going policy, legal and institutional reforms can rightly be credited to this document. Article 55 requires that the State undertakes measures to ensure that the Youth are gainfully engaged in economic, political and social spheres of the society.

Devolution is the other trans-formative aspect of the CoK 2010 that provided for the decentralization of political power, resources and opportunities. This is why it is important to reflect and share experiences on Youth engagements in the devolution process i.e. benefits, challenges and impact in the last 5 years of implementation of the devolution so that they can be better placed to engage moving forward.

ELF has been implementing a project to support youth and it is against this background that it is convening convocation. During the conference, all the young people and local organizations that participated in the project would be given a chance to showcase their work and detail their impact, outcomes, traction and lessons. Further, this conference will also act as an opportunity for networking among the youth actors in the policy spaces from different counties. Additionally, the devolution conference will include a session for peer review which will allow cross-sectional assessment of each county’s work by youths from the other three participating counties.

Key note addresses from strategic actors in the devolution spectrum will be invited to deliver talks largely centered on the role of youths in enhancing the realization of the promise of devolution in Kenya.

At ELF, we see the success of devolution as one anchored on public participation. Therefore, activating youthful individuals and organizations to meaningfully engage their respective county governments, not only furthers the potential of realizing devolution.


According to the National Youth Policy over 70 per cent of Kenya’s population is composed of young people below 35 years. This provides a great opportunity for Kenya to experience population dividends from the great potential of young people. However, there is a lack of meaningful investment in young people; and what we have is tokenistic and short-term interventions that are therefore short-lived. According to Mercy Corps, this has resulted in many young people being frustrated, losing hope and choosing to engage in destructive and violent activities.

This, despite the fact that many of the youth have accessed tertiary education and are enlightened, their engagement in matters political – whether national or county, is minimal. They are at the periphery and the quality of their contribution, if not improved sooner than later, may worsen the conditions of life not just for the young people but all Kenyans at large. Some of the vices exhibited in national politics by the older crop of leaders, such as corruption, politics devoid of ideology, negative ethnicity, and incitement, among others, may soon encroach the younger generation since most of these individuals are their role models.

Article 10 (1&2) of the Constitution outlines national values and principles of governance that binds all state organs and public officers in the process of interpreting, enacting and implementing policy and key among them is participation of the people. This should be reflected in the implementation of policies by different agencies. The youth therefore, being a critical constituency in the country, need to be capacitated to be able to effectively play their role in policy development and execution.

The youth have to be provided with information so that they can participate in their own government for the sake of the common good. Devolution has also created a great atmosphere for the youth to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but also opportunity to meaningfully participate in policy processes. ELF therefore seeks to empower the youth both at the national and county level to effectively engage in policy and legislative processes. This way, they will be better empowered to engage and own development initiatives at all levels of governments.


The National and County governments have clear roles and they are outlined in the 4th Schedule of the Constitution. At the National level, parliament (National Assembly mainly) legislates on functions relating the National Government while the County Assemblies do the same on the roles touching on the Counties. Policy and Legislative processes are complex in their nature but they are critical since they impact on resource allocation and spending priorities at both levels. The Budget Cycle for example, commences in September and requires an interested group to follow through so as to ensure that their issue of concern are given priority.

It is therefore paramount that the youth and youth centered institutions are empowered to effectively engage in such processes. This can be achieved through training and simplifying the processes and entry points, tools to use e.g. petitions and submissions of memorandum.

With empowered youth, it will help turn the tide since young people have been recipients of decision and processes by other people, if ever there is to be ownership and responsibility from their end, then they must be the architects of their own destiny. ELF believes that this initiative will help bolster capacity not only of individuals but also of youth centered institutions that will be the focus during this process of rolling out the programme at the national and county level. ELF is championing to have highly responsive youth, youth organizations, county and national governments. If they are to engage meaningfully, their capacity needs to be built.


4.0 Specific Objectives

  1. To provide a platform for youth and youth centered institutions to showcase their work and engagements in a devolved system of governance
  2. To share and highlight success stories from the youth that have been impacted by ELF programme in 5 counties targeting Policy and Legislative engagements
  3. To build momentum for youth initiatives under devolution and map of areas of close collaboration and partnerships among different stakeholders
  4. To commence the journey that will lead to periodic convening of Youth & Devolution Conference

5.0 Expected outcomes

The following are the expected outcomes;

  • Enhanced understanding among youth, organisations and development partners on how well the youth can engage in the devolution process
  • Forged partnerships and collaborations among stakeholders on how well the work together and make devolution work for the youth
  • Empowered youth and youth organizations capable of engaging in policy and legislative processes
  • Increased visibility and engagement in matters governance and leadership, at the national and county levels by the youth centered organisations
  • Showcasing of models that work that can be replicated to create success stories in counties



Keynote address- this will be done different heads of government (Ministry of Youth and Ministry of Devolution) and may also include representation from the Council of Governors.

Plenary session- expert panelists will tackle a range of thematic topics; we also have lively engagement of the audience at this point so as to get their input.

Wrap up session- after every plenary and breakaway session, we will have a rapporteurs giving a summary of key findings and action points for the participants.

Social media engagement- the conference will adapt a hashtag which will be used as a marketing tool and also to enhance online conversation to create traction to the ongoing at the Youth Devolution Conference.

Symposium theme: From noise to voice and Impact



The conference will take place at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi on the 20th and 21st of June, 2018.


The conference targets 500 participants who will include; youth leaders, youth organizations, county governments, national government, civil society, media, partners among others.