Kito International

Kito International: Livelihood Development for street youth

Nairobi, KenyaNairobi, Kenya
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Kito International provides street youth with the tools they need to become self sufficient, move off the streets completely and inspire others to do the same.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if all street youth could have economic opportunities that can change their lives and enable them to become changemakers in their communities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Over 300,000 youth survive on Kenya’s streets. In Kawangware alone, over 1,000 youth survive on the streets. Due to social exclusion and a lack of resources or opportunity, many commit crimes and end up in jail or dead. Therefore street youth face three key challenges: 1) Lack of employable skills, 2) lack of viable economic opportunities and 3) lack of access to capital to start micro-enterprises.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

KITO operates on the principal that if you engage street youth in creating economic opportunities for themselves and their peers, you can shift their focus from survival to community activism. For populations like street youth, a job signifies a bridge to social reintegration. For those who have never been employed, a job is a source of pride and security. A job provides an opportunity for a healthy livelihood. A job is ultimately about dignity and freedom.


Cordes Fellowship awarded to the founder in 2010. One Young World Ambassador in 2012 sponsored by Kenya Power to represent Kenya in the annual youth summit in Pittsburg, USA. 3. Spark Fellowship- and Laureate Global Fellowship 2014.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Kito's solution tackles the root cause of lack of opportunities for street youth and slum youth by providing an intensive skills training that covers life skills, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, workforce readiness and basic computer training. This prepares the youth to become entrepreneurs or employment ready. Alex was among the first seven that we worked with. We recruited him directly from the streets of Kawangware where he had been surviving for over five year. After successfully going through the vetting process he was selected among the first class that went through our training program. Upon graduation he joined Ismart where he currently manages the recruitment and training of other youth as sales agents.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We have trained over two hundred and fifty youth from the streets and kawangware slum directly so far and reached out to over one thousand through sports, community engagement which are part of our outreach program. 20 of the graduates are still working for Ecosafi Kito's income generating venture, a total of 50 are employed in various businesses as sales agents, cooks in restaurants and as cleaners. Through our small loan start up, two of our graduates have created their own micro-enterprises while we have two girls that have rejoined school through scholarships. We follow up with our youth after graduating to track their progress and provide mentoring. Several of our graduates are now living in better housing through their income and helping their families and friends as well.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

We envision our growth strategy as continued direct implementation where we plan to branch into Kisumu city within the next three years where we see a huge number of youth facing challenges that we have been addressing in Nairobi. We also will work with pipeline partners in youth centers to replicate our model in those centers and have them implement our model with our support and guidance.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Kito International has developed a sustainability model that will allow a number of Kito graduates to work for income-generating businesses and generate revenue for the organization. If successfully implemented, the organization will be powered and funded by those it serves. Currently we run Ecosafi Products as a start up enterprise that offers a two-month employment and provides the youths with hands-on learning experience in business.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Providing youth with economic opportunities for the short-term and skills for the long-term, Kito enables youth to become self-sufficient and work their way off the streets and out of poverty. Kito is different because we understand that street youth communities have a valuable support system. Kito’s idea is to leverage these peer support networks and to shift focus from survival to change agents: to get youth involved in helping their peers escape the streets. Kito’s approach emphasizes self-worth, teamwork, and economic participation. Kito also offers youth a temporary employment at Ecosafi.

Founding Story

I am a former street boy.For five years I was homeless and hopeless. After I lost my mom, I moved to the upcountry to live with my grandma who enrolled me in school. I would visit the city during school holidays where my uncles and grandfather were living in the Mathare slums. At some point, they could not raise the bus fare I needed to travel back to the village to resume school. My education was thus cut short. I joined a gang in the slums that was led by my uncle where we would rob people. After near death experience I joined the streets. I was given an opportunity by an American couple who helped me get an education. I resolve to help tackle the same issues I faced and help others.


Kito has a core team of 5 staff members with different roles. ( The CEO is a well trained facilitator on youth issues and has gotten numerous fellowships for his work. We have a financial officer, Social Worker with a Bachelors Degree and a diploma in Project Management , Trainer/Facilitator and Sales and Marketing Officer for the enterprise, Ecosafi. We also have a board that comprises five people with diverse experiences.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

I heard about the Awards from Social Media particularly facebook.

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Founder & CEO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I founded a home based enterprise in 2007 after completing high school which I managed for three years and built a customer base for the eco-friendly bags I was producing. This enterprise enabled me to employ three former street kids whom I rescued directly from the streets, taught the how to produce bags and worked with them. I have always had a heart for the less fortunate since I know first hand what it means to be poor.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I work with donor partners, volunteer organizations to achieve this objectives. We also work with the government in attracting government funding like the Uwezo fund and Youth fund to help our youth start businesses. Further we work with the business community to help us find opportunities for the youth upon graduation.

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