Social EnterpriseEmbu Rescue Centre Youth Group
The Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group was formed by the older street children and young people from Embu's slum communities whom Moving Mountains began working in 2005 through our Black Cats and Embu Rescue Centre rehabilitation programmes.
The aim of the youth group is to promote and develop social enterprises and cooperatively run income-generating projects to provide employment and funds for these disadvantaged young people who graduate from the Rescue Centre rehabilitation programme, especially those who did not get an opportunity to go to school or polytechnic.
To show your support and help us develop more programmes like this, we encourage you to donate directly to the Embu Rescue Centre fundraiser.
The following short video, although not specifically about the Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group, tells the experience of a group of students from Oxford Brookes University as they travel around Kenya on their 'Exploring Social Enterprise' field trip, part of their time was spent in Embu.
Moving Mountains helped the original members to join together and register as a youth group with the Ministry of Gender and Social Services and with the Jua Kali Association of Embu. We then facilitated training in income-generating activities and group loans and savings with Care Kenya. On the back of this training, the youth group started researching and developing their own ideas for a variety of small social enterprises in the Embu region.
At the start, all the businesses we helped to set up, manage and develop (at least until the point where the former street children understood all the basic principles of running a successful business, managing accounts, re-investing in stock, etc) had been for individuals or pairs but in February 2014 we made an appeal through our supporters here in the UK and Ireland for a start-up grant for 15 of the boys to start a car wash business.
Photo: The new power wash helped streamline the business
A good response meant that by March 2014 we had the funds to put in the preparations and provide the capital to start the business. Julius Macharia, a former Nairobi street child himself, who was one of the pioneers of a car wash project with the Kinyago Youth Group in Nairobi's Majengo slum, spent 2 weeks at the beginning of March working with the boys and preparing the site which had been donated by Embu Council. Julius also works on our Moving Mountains Community Development Team ( a group of former street children who travel around East Africa working on all building and development projects).
All profits from the carwash are invested in the group savings account and used to expand the business and to provide loans to allow members to start up their own businesses in the future where possible. Julius continues to visit Embu regularly to check on the progress of the group, their businesses and to catch up with some old friends!
In 2012 we had also bought the boys an interlocking brick making machine so when business is low they can put their efforts into making the bricks which they can sell at very good prices as the raw materials to make them cost a lot less than a regular brick. This builds on the training in this technology which we facilitated for the young people through a partnership with a Kenyan government ministry.
Since the car wash opened in March 2014 the members of the group had been washing cars by hand with buckets and sponges. The installation of a new power washer and large water storage tank in November 2014 has greatly benefited the business. They are now able to wash each car in 10 to 15 minutes, providing a quality service with a fast turnaround, resulting in more clients and the ability to compete for customers with other car wash businesses in Embu. It also helps to provide more employment and income for the members of the youth group.
History of the Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group
The Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group was initially a slow burner, back in 2005 most of the Rescue Centre kids had a lack of direction in their life, many were sleeping on the streets and sniffing glue daily. When we started the Black Cats football clubs in Embu back in 2006 we realised how bad the addiction to glue was... Some of the boys were hiding glue in the sleeves of their football tops and sniffing during competitive matches, they were certainly rough diamonds!
The difference in those same people today is astounding, and pays testament to the hard work of the volunteers and staff at the Embu Rescue Centre, particularly Lilian Wanjiru who acts like a mother to all the kids, James Kariuki who gives up his days to volunteer at the Rescue Centre and Gilbert Njeru, the Moving Mountains and Adventure Alternative coordinator for Embu.
- 2005: Moving Mountains Kenya begins working with street children in Embu through Embu Rescue Centre and Embu Black Cats programmes
- 2012: Graduates of Rescue Centre and Black Cats programmes supported to receive training in interlocking brick technology with Kenyan government ministry and employed on Moving Mountains Kenya construction project at Gatwe Primary School. Moving Mountains fund the purchase of an interlocking brick machine for the Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group.
- 2013: Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group established and registered with Ministry of Gender and Social Services and with the Jua Kali Association of Embu. Training for members in income-generating activities and in group loans and savings with Care Kenya. Group savings account opened. The young people save on a daily basis, as little as 5 Kenyan shillings a day. The system of saving and its benefits is enthusiastically embraced by the young people. As an example of its impact, by the end of 2013 one of the boys had managed to save up 7,000ksh. With his savings he bought a tool box kit to work as a mechanic. This is one of the boys we took to polytechnic college in 2010, on the back of his savings and investment he managed to get a job as a turn boy with one of the lorry owners in Embu and begin earning an income.
- 2014: Embu Rescue Centre Youth Group Car Wash officially opens for business and later in the same year we provide a new power washer machine and large water storage tank for car wash means business is able to provide an improved service, attract more clients and provide more employment and income for members.
Photo: Youth Group receive training on making interlocking bricks
- Steven Fletcher, Vision for Kids Northern Ireland
- Kaveh Guilanpour (purchase of interlocking brick machine)
Photo: Kaveh Guilanpour raised the funds for the interlocking brick machine
Volunteering - teaching non-examinable subjects such as music, sport, arts, ethics, plus running extra-curricular clubs and providing small group reading lessons, mentoring and group therapy work.
Photo: Many kids from Embu County Primary get their lunch at the Rescue Centre
The group now plan to develop their marketing and promotion to attract more clients, particularly local taxi drivers and 'saccos' (matatu associations). They have already gained customers from the neighbouring Kenya Power offices and plan to promote the car wash to other local businesses and organisations. As word gets around about the project and with the improved service they are now able to offer, the group hope to increase their average of clients each day and grow their customer base further. Profit from the business is shared among the group, providing members with an income. As the group increases their business they hope to be able to reinvest in additional equipment and do further promotion in future.
Emphasising the social enterprise aspect of the business should help the group to attract more customers since the work of Moving Mountains in Embu is well known and respected. Our Black Cats sports and rehabilitation programme and Embu Rescue Centre for Street Children, which form the basis for the Rescue Centre Youth Group, have been operating in Embu since 2005/06 and are integral elements in the life of the town.
Our support for the local schools in Embu through construction and renovation projects, provision of volunteers, youth and educational opportunities and ongoing management support has also contributed to our reputation as a key development actor in Embu.
Photo: The Black Cats FC in Embu played an important role in the development of the Youth Group