Healthy Competition

(the pictures here were taken by the KGSA Journalism Club)


Last week I spent a day at a huge, Nairobi wide high school competition. It was as heated as a sports event, but the focus was entrepreneurship. Junior Achievement host this annual competition for high school students to come present businesses that they have started. The Journalism Club at KGSA presented Shedders. Shedders is a company that KGSA started to shed light on the reality of growing up as young women in Kibera. They girls learn how to take photos, edit video and write journalism articles. They use these skills to produce a magazine, contribute to a blog, put videos on youtube and take pictures and video at local weddings. All these ventures are bringing money into the business, and they use their profits in part to give back to Kibera with clean water. Shedders has been able to build a hand washing station at the school and get a year’s supply of clean water for the school.


Teka, the man who runs the Journalism Club, says in some ways this club is more important than school because not all the graduates will get to go to college, and this club gives them skills that will help them find work beyond KGSA. I have been struck by the business ingenuity in the slum. If you have electricity, you charge a few shillings to let people charge their phones. If you have access to watermelons and pineapples, you sell them by the slice since few can afford them whole. Creativity abounds. This competition, asking young people to understand and follow through with successful business models at such a young age, is working to set these students up for success.


It was amazing to watch these young women compete against 43 high schools, including some of the top schools in the country. The club presented twice. Once, they made the cut in a small room with a panel of judges to make the top ten. Then, they had to present to the entire auditorium of hundreds of people and a different panel of judges. They were fearless, and knew their company and their product well. Of the top ten, the ladies from Kibera were the only group to get an auditorium wide ovation. It was very well deserved.


Nine hours after the competition started, Shedders of KGSA was named third in the competition, earning them birth in the National competition in September. As the President went on stage to collect her trophy, the Journalism Club erupted in screams of happiness and celebration. Teka told me later, “I am so proud of the girls. I have not told them that yet. I told them them the competition is not over. We need to win Nationals, to show Kenya what the girls from Kibera can do.”