The rapid development of the IT services industry in India has been a driving force contributing to the country’s economic transformation as the largest sourcing destination for IT services globally. Similarly, the IT services sector in East Africa has the potential to be a major contributor to the region’s economic growth and a creator of millions of jobs. However, the shortage of skilled professionals continues to be a bottleneck for growth of the industry. Ongoing SITA interventions centred on knowledge and best practice exchange from India aim to address the skills shortage.
A survey carried out by SITA during 2016, in Kenya, identified some “hot-skills” that were in demand among employers in the digital media sector. To mitigate this gap, a 6-week pilot training course supported by SITA and delivered by Kuza Biashara, a training and business support services provider for fledgling businesses, was held in Nairobi between 27 March and 12 May 2017. The course curriculum was co-designed by Indian company, Irridium Interactive Ltd which defrayed part of the development costs under its CSR activities.
Fifty high-potential young women were chosen, from over six hundred applicants, to undergo the training after a rigorous selection process. So what did the young graduates learn? How will they apply their new skills in IT to their chosen career sector? Successful graduate of the training, Ms. Betty Wachera shares her experience in this blog, the first of four, that will highlight the road to, and the outcomes from this pilot intervention from SITA.
By Betty Wachera
I was stuck in traffic, and I could not wait to get to town to carry out some errands. Nairobi traffic can be tiresome but if you have a good book you will get by. This particular day I had no book in my bag and so my phone kept me busy. I logged into Facebook and as I scrolled down, I came across a share by my friend about a digital skills training program. Out of sheer curiosity, I clicked on the link, which took me to about 259 questions that needed to be filled. Damn! Too many questions I thought to myself. Inadvertently, I proceeded to answer the questions and it turns out there were about 88— blame my mind for exaggerating. I looked up, we hadn’t even moved an inch in this Ngong Road traffic, and within no time, I was done filling in the questions.
Fast forward, about a week later I received an email congratulating me that I had been shortlisted for the Kuza Biashara Social Media & Digital Marketing course supported by the International Trade Centre’s SITA (Supporting Indian Trade and Investment for Africa) initiative. I was super elated.
The first day of class was the beginning of a long, yet short journey ahead. It dawned on me how lucky and fortunate I was to have been chosen alongside 49 other brilliant ladies. How lucky can a girl be? My Kuza experience has been full of lessons since then, and I have 99 reasons to be grateful to have been part of this team:
I have learnt, when you give quality you get quality.
To get the best, you have to be the best version of yourself. I picked this lesson from the simple things and small things that are easily ignored. Our facilitators were always on time. The class began at exactly 8.00 am and each second was well utilized. Having been in previous environments where meetings can start 2 hours late, this is an important value I am learning and will take all along my life.
Long time friendships.
Something that I love about this experience is that, I get to leave, with a rich and fuller life having made instant friendships that have blossomed in such a short span of time. It has been laughter and smiles, picking each other up and holding each other accountable. I was managing a job and class at the same time. I received overwhelming support and help from my great friends and classmates namely, Veronica, Njeri and Scholar. They took time to send me notes, to help me catch up and we encouraged each other to get earlier to class each other day. I have expanded my network with an additional 30 plus women who have challenged me in positive ways. We have engaged in sharing our dreams, passions and purpose in life, encouraging each other to do our very best. I am forever grateful.
I have not met such patient and understanding facilitators to say the least. It got to a point the classes were very technical and hard enough to grasp. Some concepts sounded like Greek, but Paul never hesitated to answer even the questions that might have sounded dumb to him. All facilitators were graceful in how they handled each and every girl in that room with all our unique needs and learning abilities. They made the stay fun, with a relaxed and friendly, yet serious learning environment. Their energy, enthusiasm and optimism rubbed off on me. My birthday happened to have been around the duration of this course and boy was it fun! We had fun, cake and lots of laughter. Initially I did not even know Kuza Biashara existed but now it is family. This program was actually a gift to myself this birthday. Thank you team.
Neuro- Linguistic Programming
The NLP techniques we learnt have really come through when dealing with everyday situations, besides preparing me for what to expect in the future. I am now deliberate on fixing my mind and attitude on cause as opposed to effect. I can even tell when someone is out-rightly lying. Yeah! I am having fun with that. I can now build better rapport and use various NLP presuppositions. The NLP classes were very practical and fun with the graceful Avni Shah.
And finally……Digital Marketing Skills!
I am an avid fan of social media, especially when I get to explore and follow the people who fascinate me especially in my areas of interest which is mostly fashion. I thought that making a significant impact on the inter webs is an effortless thing. I believed that the internet decides whether it likes you or not. If it does, then you have a million likes and followers and that is just about it.
Turns out I was very wrong. Digital marketing can be explored via very many avenues such as, email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click, off page optimization, mobile marketing, video marketing and phygital marketing. I found the phygital marketing techniques very mind blowing especially when harnessed to revolutionize the retail sector. For once, I found topics on technology to be relatable and interesting. Back to the issue on quality, we learnt that numbers actually aren’t the biggest priority for your social media or digital presence. You had better have few followers who are quality and will likely convert than have countless followers. With quality and meaningful content you can turn the digital world into your gold mine.
This program has been but a confirmation that, what you think you become. You can actually draw the opportunities and experiences you want into your life. I am excited about the many opportunities that this program has opened up to me.
I have an entrepreneurial spirit and this program was very timely. I am actually harnessing the skills into a business that is in the pipeline. The business mentorship and coaching that we received alongside the digital classes, has been very helpful. I am more confident and unstoppable in pursuing my purpose from now henceforth.
I am very right to acknowledge that my Kuza experience is the best thing that happened to me this year so far. Thank you to all the sponsors who made this program happen: SITA-ITC and UK Aid. You are heroes in my story, journey and life.
I am Grateful