Youth Initiatives – Kenya

Charles Wafula, the Executive Director of YIKE

Charles Wafula, the Executive Director of YIKE

What would your approach be if you wanted to find a way for Kenyan youth to be key partners in their own development and in the development of their communities? For Pamela Wesonga and Nynke Nauta their response was to form Youth Initiatives – Kenya.


Youth Initiatives-Kenya, or YIKE as it is more commonly known, is a non-profit organisation whose vision is to create a society in which the youth are able to facilitate their development. Registered in 2003, YIKE started as the brainchild of Pamela and Nynke who at the time were both doing their masters in Community Development and were interested in interacting with Kenyan youth to find out what contribution they were making to their country.

Balcony at YIKE offices Most people upon leaving university are motivated by one thing, money. Uniquely Charles Wafula, the Executive Director of YIKE, sees his education as adding to his responsibilities to his community and instead of chasing money, he now helps youth in Kariobangi chase their dreams. With the help of his team, Charles seeks to provide essential funding for youth initiatives that fall within the YIKE mission, without the hassle of bureaucratic red tape. As Charles puts it, ‘the collateral for the funds provided by YIKE is, simply, mutual trust’.

Yike Staff in their offices

Yike Staff in their offices

Eight years after its initiation, YIKE exists to support collective socio-economic, cultural, environmental and technological initiatives developed by youth in informal urban settlements. The organisation has attracted over 22,000 youth aged between 15 and 35 years old from over 72 youth groups seeking relevance in Kenya’s development. Located in Kariobangi North, YIKE occupies a modest office space on the second floor of Sanoda House. With children playing on the ground floor, which houses an after school programme and many more community-based organisations sharing the building, YIKE is significant hub for the community. The organisation uses some of its space as a cyber café and charges subsidised rates, which allows members of the community vital access to the Internet.


Working hard at the YIKE cyber cafe

Working hard at the YIKE cyber cafe

YIKE runs several programs: Business Challenge Competition, HIV/AIDS and Behaviour Change, Gender and Governance, Youth Information Centre, Community Events and Dialogues and a Capacity Building programme. Every year, the organisation recruits ten groups, which it assists to attain their goals by providing training in pertinent issues like team and peace building, team development and cohesion, and business management. It also analyses different youth initiatives and their impact on problems common in their locations. Groups are picked on the basis of their association with YIKE and as well on the basis of consultations by YIKE aimed at fully understanding the vision of the youth groups. Loans are given to those groups which have been involved with YIKE for at least one year. YIKE makes no compromises ensuring that by the time organisations graduate from its programs, they have a clear vision and a reliable composition. The effect of this is that youth programs develop with proper structures, able to accommodate youth eager to learn skills, earn a livelihood and be part of a larger plan – developing Kenya.


Colourful walls at the YIKE balcony

Colourful walls at the YIKE balcony

YIKE admits that it has faced some challenges. Minimal funding and sometimes lack of funding all together, has made it difficult for the organisation to achieve its own goals let alone fund those of dependent youth initiatives. Secondly, Kariobangi is a sensitive environment with its own socio-economic challenges and this, coupled with high expectations from the community, results in a lot of pressure for the organisation. While the organisation is constantly plagued by fears of insecurity in the area, residents still look to it for viable solutions for local youth. The challenges experienced, however, have only served to inspire the staff at YIKE to work even harder, carving a niche as an organisation that despite the odds has not lost sight of its vision-to help youth facilitate their development. YIKE boasts several success stories. Most notably is the Ngei 1 Development Youth Group based in Huruma, Nairobi. With help from YIKE, this organisation has been able to initiate and sustain water and sanitation, microfinance and garbage collection projects in Huruma. YIKE has been able to help youth initiatives in Kariobangi, Dandora, Huruma, Mathare Kibera and Kawangware, over the years.


GenerationKenya Ditigal Media Director, Josephine Were, presents the Executive Director of YIKE, Charles Wafula, with a limited edition GenerationKenya tshirt.

GenerationKenya Digital Media Director, Josephine Were, presents the Executive Director of YIKE, Charles Wafula, with a limited edition GenerationKenya t-shirt.

The local community is constantly auditing YIKE, and for Charles, and others at this organisation, their passion for this initiative ensures that year after year YIKE continues to prove that the youth in Kenya are more than capable of facilitating development in Kenya.



  1. It is really encouraging to see initiative that YIKE has put in place to promote the youths and help them grow financialy thus putting them away from crime, drugs and other social immoralities. Kudos


    Please view and join this youth forum. Thank you.

  3. wish to liaise and cooperate with YIKE in other issues and advices because we’ve a newly registered group_SUNLEGACY. God bless you in your endevors. Thanks.

  4. wish to liaise and cooperate with YIKE on other issues and advices because we’ve a newly registered group_SUNLEGACY in NORTH RIFT. God bless you in your endevors. Thanks.

  5. Emmanuel Mapesa says:

    Just amazing and satisfying to see Charles Wafula – alias Waff – putting his leadership skills to a very worthwhile course. MeLoveThis!

  6. we youths do lots of crazy staff but come think of it at the end of everything its worth something……. ok we keep on reinventing that what has already been done but again it shows how creative we are, for example, a guy in Nyeri reinvented an aircraft then he tried to test it, unfortunately it never obeyed the laws of physics but the best the guy got from our caring government was an arrest warning for endangering peoples lives. am sure that guy feared and now cannot try it again

  7. JOASH JUMA-KU says:

    I am inspired by your youth initiative and right now am heading to kisumu to start an ‘orphan children’ key targets are; to eradicate hunger and poverty among them, to enhance their education, improve their health status, improve their social security and help them develop a positive perception to life in this doubted Kenya. I therefore request to partner with any other organization with same dreams and obtain funding from well wishers once the project is underway. i wish Yike a smooth operation and i hope you will be one of my donors.

  8. It is an encouraging thing to see what YIKE is doing to improve the life of the youth in this hard living in this urban area.Me as a youth it will be so interesting to join such a group and improve not only my life,but also other peoples life

  9. Am currently in Makadara and i really wish to join the initiative,please advice

  10. Our challenge is to design a youth job creation project in the Kenyan agricultural sector that is operationally and financially viable. Please contribute your ideas on what you think a feasible project would look like.

    Kenya is youth dominated country where some estimates suggest roughly 50% of the population is under the age of 25 — where agriculture generates 19% of the country’s income in GDP. Youth unemployment is high and constitutes 70% of total unemployment in Kenya. To start we are open to possibility about, for instance, what the crop or product is produced, where it sits on the value chain and the geographical location.

    aCatalyst Consulting has been asked by NEPAD [Kenya] to research this problem and create project that satisfies the following criteria:

    ? Generates jobs for youth — that ultimately contributes to raising household incomes

    ? Is primarily in the agriculture sector – for instance, may be in primary crops production, agro-processing or horticulture

    ? Has a transferable skills training element – so that skills learned can be applied in other sectors

    ? Project is based on a business model that is operationally workable and can be financially profitable.

    Likely, that we would begin with a smaller demonstration pilot project, prove the model works and then roll out on a wider scale.

  11. Hi we are a recently registered youth organization from zambia who want to learn and share ideas wit u on matters affectin young people. If u interestd we shal snd u our profile. Thanx

  12. hi kindly get in touch with me I would like to know more of your youth group.


  1. […] Kenyan youth to find out what contribution they were making to their country. Read the full article here. Share this […]

  2. […] Initiatives – Kenya JUNE 28, 2011 BY JOSEPHINE WERE, AND DAUDI WERE 1 COMMENT Charles Wafula, the Executive Director of […]

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