Clifford Okoth – A lighthouse guiding other youth

Born and bred in Webuye town, in Bungoma County, Clifford Okoth’s story is one of triumph against all odds. The 29-year-old former student of Kenyatta University has turned the tables from being a jobless young graduate to a successful entrepreneur and a community youth influencer.

The co-founder of the Lighthouse NARIGP Poultry Youth CIG (an associate of the World Bank) farm in Webuye East has climbed out of poverty and ushered fellow youths in his community into employment and economic growth by leveraging digital skills opportunities.

The Lighthouse NARIGP Youth CIG is a community-based organisation (CBO) co-founded by Clifford and his colleague Daniel Barasa and currently has over 30 young people involved in meaningful employment. It is heavily complemented by the Ajira Digital training and mentorship.

Clifford succeeded despite a difficult childhood. For starters, he dropped out of his undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Kenyatta University, as he was self-sponsored and his parents could not afford the fees. This unfortunate turn of events did not discourage or deter Clifford from pursuing his dreams; he explored a certificate in business management from the Kenya Institute of Management (KIM), Digital skills from Digital Opportunities Trust (DOT), among other opportunities.

Clifford has also trained with KYEOP (Kenya Youth Employment Opportunities Project) and is currently doing exams for grade 3 in Tailoring and Dressmaking: he was also elected the representative for Webuye Chapter KYEOP cycle 6. His commitment and determination gave him the necessary soft and hard skills to start a poultry farm business which is currently a registered CBO with two poultry farms and a hatching station in its name.

When Covid-19 hit in early 2020, Clifford could not sustain his needs through the business and was happy to discover Ajira through a social media platform. He trained on transcription and soon landed well-paying clients on Upwork with the help of Ajira Digital mentors. One of the online work projects that Clifford delivered on the Upwork platform paid him Ksh160,000.

He invested the whole amount into his poultry business, and he continued with online work whilst running his business on the side. He later trained in Digital Marketing and Data entry, which were instrumental in building his business. Clifford has been a great ambassador of the Ajira Digital Programme and has mobilised over 200 young people, including Lighthouse poultry farm CBO members, to take up the training, mentorship, and job linkages to earn a dignified income from online work.

Currently, Clifford doubles up as the Project Manager and the Chairman of the Lighthouse NARIGP Poultry Youth CIG, with Daniel Barasa as the Project Operations Manager and CBO Secretary and Alphonzine Etota as the Marketing Manager and Treasurer.

“From the Ajira Platform work, I have managed to make money to cater form my daily needs and even start a poultry business by buying incubators,” says Clifford.

“On average I make about KSh20,000 monthly, which I use to purchase eggs to run my incubation business. This has helped me be more consistent in my poultry business because as we speak now, my incubators produce about 3,700 chicks at once and all this is through the Ajira Digital platform which has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to earn a decent living. It’s a great initiative for the youth since it has enabled us to rise and be sustainable in what we do. Therefore, I would urge the youth countrywide to embrace this programme as it is because, at the end of the day, online work is work,” he adds.

The Lighthouse Narigp Youth CBO continue to leverage the Ajira Digital Programme value to grow. One of the basic requirements to join the CBO is to train on Data Entry/management and Digital marketing/e-Commerce at the Webuye East Ajira Youth Empowerment Centre (AYEC) under the mentorship of Lucy Kilwake, the Centre Manager in the constituency.

Through Clifford’s leadership, most members of the Lighthouse Narigp CBO are resident online workers at the AYEC. They’re a part of the Online Workers Community in the area, involved in digital freelancing and digital marketing of the business and CBO Partners’ products.

At the AYEC, they are privileged to access Free laptops, Wi-Fi and working space, and online work mentorship from the Centre Manager. Some activities that the Lighthouse Narigp Poultry CBO is involved in include Chick hatching, brooding and rearing. To ensure sustainability, the organisation also supports its clients through value-addition customer service such as animal vaccination, farmers’ training and digital marketing services for partners’ poultry products.

The Light House Narigp CBO, started as a small poultry business by two young men with an ambitious vision, is now a regional business that serves clients from Western, Nyanza, and Rift Valley with chicks for rearing, free training for farmers and digital marketing services. The business started with a small incubator with a capacity of 528 eggs now has two other more prominent incubators with a capacity of 1,056 and 2,112.

The project now prides itself on owning two poultry farms where they rear chicken to produce hatching eggs to sustain the business, given the scarce supply of improved hybrid chicken eggs in the market. Lighthouse Narigp’s business growth has been growing on a positive trajectory. It has attracted numerous like-minded well-wishers who have supported the organization with free financial training free land to expand their business among other partners, with the latest one being AMPATH.

The AMPATH organisation was impressed by Clifford’s Lighthouse business model presentation, and they committed to fund them for expansion. Lighthouse Narigp will be receiving a cash donation of Ksh100,000 from AMPATH after a successful application and upon meeting all the grant criteria.

As part of the CBO’s long-term goals, Lighthouse plans to compete with the local and multinational poultry food chain companies, including the KFC, Ken-chick, Chicken-Inn et al. Clifford is utilising every possible opportunity available to be a role model for the young people by showing them that anything is possible the young people that anything when you believe and take every available opportunity. The future is bright, and the dreams of these young Kenyans are valid. Clifford is also ambitious and planning to go back to school to complete his degree and advance his studies further.

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