About 45 percent of children in Kenya are living with one or no parents thus lacking support, guidance, and assistance.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Former Principal Executive Director at Britam PLC  Stephen Wandera has launched a mentorship programme aimed at equipping teenagers with the necessary skills to be prepared for the future.

Speaking during the launch of the programme , Wandera says the move was necessitated by the need in the market as the majority of teens in Kenya lack adult support and direction leaving them lost and unprepared for the future.

“Nearly half of the Kenyan teens will be ill-prepared for the future dampening the growth of the country that has 12.1 million teens. All children need caring adults in their lives, and although positive, sustained relationships with parents represent a critical resource for children, other adults can provide support that is similar to the support that a parent provides. This support from other adults can either be in addition to that provided by a parent or in place of support that a parent refuses or is unable to give,” said  Wandera.

The programme dubbed Maven Mentorship targets to mentor over a hundred secondary school students every year and is available to teenagers in national and county schools through the medium of school arrangements.

The transformational programme will see mentors engage with mentees one-on-one on a weekly basis for a year.

“Our model is based on volunteers. So far we have over 150 mentors registered and are going through the vetting process,” he explained.

Each mentor will be trained to carry out the mentoring as provided in the curriculum whilst using tools that are developed and continuously renewed for the programme. This includes research-based practices and evidence-based monthly reviews. Training for Mentors is conducted for one week with regular intakes of new mentors.

“We are driven by a dedication expressed through voluntarism but actively supported by partnerships. Our vision of helping the transformation of African youth and their future vis a vis the sheer size of the need means that Outreach is at the very heart of our work. The effectiveness of our outreach programme is intertwined with resources that can be mobilized by our partners and us. We welcome both interest and partnership agreement,” Wandera added.

Speaking during the same event, Apollo Group Chief Executive Ashok Shah says this is a worrying trend, as the teens are the future workforce of the nation.

“There is a need for the country to invest in mentorship for our kids. Our teens need  support  from other adults that can either be in addition to that provided by a parent or in place of support that a parent refuses or is unable to give. For example, other adults can provide financial assistance, enhance children’s learning skills, and help build their self-esteem and self-control. They can also provide emotional support, advice, and guidance about subjects that adolescents might feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, or fearful discussing with their parents,” Shah explained.

A 2019 report published by Transform Nations under the Man Enough programme shows that 45 percent of children in Kenya are living with one or no parents thus lacking support, guidance, and assistance.

In Kenya, teen pregnancy rates remain high, with close to 20 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 either pregnant or already a teen mother. Between January and May 2020, the total number of adolescent pregnancy cases recorded was 151,433, a 40 percent increase over the previous national average.

“Mentoring is a great tool used to shape and guide the youth on their journey to become responsible and productive members of the community. When powered by Voluntarism and targeted at the underprivileged the community can only develop,” added Njeri Njomo Jubilee Health Insurance Chief Executive.

The latest research from Walden University indicates that mentored youth are likely to have fewer absences from school, better attitudes towards school, fewer incidents of hitting others, less drug and alcohol use, more positive attitudes toward their elders and toward helping in general, and improved relationships with their parents.

“Mentoring programs can be seen as formal mechanisms for establishing a positive relationship with at least one caring adult. The foundation of mentoring is the idea that if caring, concerned adults are available to young people, youth will be more likely to become successful adults themselves,” the research states.

According to the African Development Bank report, by 2050 Africa will be home to 38 of the 40 youngest countries in the world, with median populations under 25 years of age. This will result in an estimated 10-12 million new people joining the labor force each year.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us and the rate at which technology is advancing, it is critical that we have a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce to be able to drive Africa in this direction.

“There is currently a mismatch between industry demands and the education curriculum. Education institutions need to update their curricula to align with the direction in which the world and Africa are going. If we ignore this, our young people will have irrelevant qualifications that the continent will be unable to benefit from,”said SNDBX Chief Executive Officer Joram Mwinamo.

It’s a lazy weekday, if there is even such a thing. You know, those days when your head knows there is work to  be done but your body is dragging its feet to actualize the goals.  I am sitting on the terrace of Executive Residency by Best Western at Riverside  Drive  Nairobi. It’s a lazy weekday, if there is even such a thing. You know, those days when your head knows there is work to be done but your body is dragging its feet to actualize the goals.  I am sitting on the terrace of Executive Residency by Best Western at Riverside  Drive  Nairobi.

Chef Knut Stanceslaus Mate is in the Kitchen, he is preparing one of his signature Grove T-Bone steak and he invites me into his ‘sacred’ usually out of bound ‘staff only’ kitchen to see him cooking. His unusual name ‘Knut’ is because in the year he was born, his dad won a treasury position the Kenya national union of teachers (Knut) elections in Kakamega, explains the Chef.

 Watching Chef Knut, prepare the food is a therapeutic art. The steak meat is marinated at  8 degrees centigrade to ensure food safety. The marinade is a mixture of vinegar, olive oil, light soy source ginger, garlic and rosemary. “I bat the meat to tenderise it, then soak inside the marinade for 15 minutes,” says Chef Knut.

 Meanwhile, the vegetables are blanched in hot water beginning with the long cooking baby corn, then the carrots, cauliflower and broccolli. The veggies are then blast chilled which is a method of cooling food quickly to a lower temperature in a safe way and also ensures that the veggies are crunchy and not overcooked.


There is intentionality in this kitchen about hygiene, the chefs are all wearing masks in the kitchen, “no touching of masks is allowed and chefs shower after every 4 hours” says Chef Knut. Crockery and cutlery are disinfected using Suma Dis (D4), a disinfectant suitable for food contact surfaces and guests eat in shifts to control the number of people seating in the restaurant. Tables are arranged diagonally to allow for adequate social distancing.

 The aroma from the T-bone on the griddle catches my attention. It’s been sitting there for 3 – 4 minutes undisturbed and covered so as to retain its juices, explains the multi-talented chef. Did I mention that he is also a scriptwriter and choreographer?  So he not only creates ‘mind to plate food art’ but he also finds art expression on theatrical stages and has won several awards in drama, poetry and traditional dance choreography.

 Meanwhile, the fondant potatoes are peeled and blanched for 7 – 10 minutes in hot water that has garlic, ginger, salt and turmeric to season and give a yellow tinge colour. This is followed by a 4-5 minute deep fry to a golden brown colour and seasoned with salt before drying them.  

The plating of the food is ready. Chef lays the prepared food beginning with the vegetables, proteins then the starch, subtle reminder of the the portion priorities one should take. Tiger marked, cherry tomatoes that were grilled alongside the steak provide stunning colour contrast to the food and a cream sauce provides a finishing touch.  


The Grove T-bone steak  


T-bone steak 250g


Olive oil                                                              50ml

Lemon juice                                                       50ml

Garlic                                                                    10g

Ginger                                                                  5g

Light soy sauce                                               15ml.



Carrots                                                30g

Cauliflower                                         30g

Broccoli                                               30g

Bay marrow                                       20g

Garlic                                                   5g

Red onions                                         15g


Fondant baked potatoes                                 120g



  1. Weigh all the ingredients and label
  2. Whisk together the marination ingredients for the T-Bone steak.
  3. Bat and marinate the steak for 15 minutes
  4. Cut and wash the vegetable with saline water for 5minutes and blanch all the vegetables.
  5. Peel and cut the potatoes in fondant shapes and bake at 180degrees for 20 minutes on a buttered rack.
  6. Grill the steak and toss the vegetables
  7. Correct seasoning and serve.

Five Kenyan Start-ups Collect kshs 330M at Continent-wide Plastics Innovation Challenge
Chemolex – £750,000,

Mega Gas – £500,000,

Ukwenza VR £250,000

Baus Taka Enterprise £250,000 (woman-led)

EcoCoCo Homecare £250,000 (woman-led)

17 March Nairobi, Kenya….Kenya scored big at the inaugural Afri-Plastics Summit & Awards ceremony when 5 out of a total 9 start-ups scooped £2M as part of the Afri-Plastics Challenge, a continent-wide plastics innovation challenge worth £4.1M.

The awards were the culmination of a four-year initiative designed by Challenge Works and funded by Global Affairs Canada to recognize trailblazing innovators that are tackling the global plastics problem and protecting the ocean. Out of the 9 shortlisted start-ups, five were women-led, and two from Kenya winning a total of £500,000, demonstrating the role women play in designing sustainable innovative solutions that benefit communities.

Speaking at the Awards ceremony, Principal Secretary, State Department of Environment & Climate Change Eng. Festus K. Ng’eno, said  “In Kenya, 37,000 metric tonnes of plastic get into the Indian ocean annually causing devastating disruption in our marine ecosystem.

He added, “As a Ministry, we have invested heavily in both policies and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution. We have banned the manufacturing, retailing, distribution and importation of plastic carrier and flat bags for commercial or household use since 2017; in 2019 we also prohibited their use in protected areas.”

“To guide the country’s transition to a green growth and circular economy pathway, we implemented the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030), as well as The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022. These investments have strengthened Kenya’s position globally as an environmental steward and we are excited to see that other African countries have taken similar commitments against plastics,” he explained.

Christopher Thornley, Canada’s High Commissioner in Nairobi said: “Plastic pollution is an issue that affects everyone. Plastics that make their way into the marine ecosystem are just as damaging whether they originated in Mombasa or Montreal, Lagos or London. The winners of the Afri-Plastics Challenge show there is a way forward for establishing a successful circular economy for plastic waste, with innovations capable of changing how we all use and dispose of plastic – not only in Africa but around the world.”

Jonathan Slater, International Development Director, Challenge Works said: “During this groundbreaking Afri-Plastic Summit and Awards we have brought together leaders, innovators, policymakers, and entrepreneurs from all corners of the African continent with the aim to foster collaboration and develop innovative, sustainable solutions to tackle plastic pollution in Africa and beyond.”

He concluded, “We are also incredibly grateful to all the partners that made the Afri-plastics Challenge a success, the initiative provided a unique opportunity to create lasting change and forge a sustainable, plastic-free future for Africa. We are proud of all the innovators who participated and look forward to seeing the impact that those who won more than £4 million will have; from doubling recycling rates to providing new sources of income for families, pioneering companies converting invasive plants in Lake Victoria into biodegradable materials and businesses creating affordable cooking gas from trash.”

Winners of the Afri-Plastic Challenge are:

  • £1 million was awarded to Togo’s Green Industry Plast (GIP-TOGO) – a recycling business that helps households earn a living through waste plastic collection. GIP-TOGO then sorts, shreds, cleans and bags the shredded plastic to be used again, including in ecological paving slabs.
  • Kenya’s Chemolex won £750,000 to scale production of Biopactic, a biodegradable alternative to plastic made from invasive water hyacinths that grow aggressively in Lake Victoria. The next generation material can completely replace single use plastic in food and product packaging – not only reducing plastic pollution, but dealing with an invasive plant impacting Kenya’s marine ecosystem too.
  • £500,000 was won by Mega Gas in Kenya which converts waste plastic into affordable cooking gas for people living on less than US$1 a day. It uses a thermal cracking process that creates no emissions, residue or pollution to turn plastic pollution, such as polythene, into a fuel for rural families.
  • Chanja Datti (Nigeria) – awarded £750,000 –a woman-led business based in Abuja, it converts collected recyclable waste into commercially viable products. It collects, sorts and bails plastic before selling it on to manufacturers.
  • EcoCoCo Homecare (Kenya) – awarded £250,000 – a woman-led that has developed alternatives to plastic homeware products that use fibres from coconut husks left over from coconut oil production, including scouring pads, scrubbing brushes and brooms.
  • Toto Safi (Rwanda) – awarded £100,000 – a a woman-led diapers-on-demand service which makes sustainable cloth diapers a realistic alternative to single-use plastic-based nappies. Through its app, parents can order clean and sterilised nappies at an affordable cost, while used nappies are taken away to be cleaned.
  • Catharina Natang (Cameroon) – awarded £250,000 – a woman-led business training fashion designers in Africa to make sustainable choices in the textiles they use and understand plant-based alternatives to polymer-based materials.
  • Ukwenza VR (Kenya) – awarded £250,000 – uses virtual reality to explain the journey of a piece of plastic after it is dumped, including the damage it does to local environments, to persuade people to make different choices around plastic consumption and disposal.
  • Baus Taka Enterprise (Kenya) – awarded £250,000 – a woman-led business that developed a mobile app to encourage people to segregate their plastic waste – through competitions it offers cash rewards and points that can be redeemed for medical services in partnership with health clinics.

The successful innovations developed through the Afri-Plastics Challenge have paved the way to revolutionise Africa’s approach to reducing reliance on plastic. They are also supporting the empowerment of women and girls by creating economic opportunities for women. 60% of entries that made it to the final 40 were women-led.

Innovators focussed on recycling solutions reported a 113% increase in monthly collecting and processing during the prize. In the long-term, the development and scaling of the innovators’ solutions will lead to the creation of new, sustainable local enterprises, creating alternatives to single-use plastics and improving collection and processing of waste.

About the Afri-Plastics Challenge

The Afri-Plastics Challenge, run by innovation prize experts Challenge Works, is scaling solutions to the scourge of plastic pollution in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to funding from the Government of Canada. The challenge comprises three strands to take on the problem on multiple fronts.

  • Strand 1Accelerating Growth – rewarding innovative solutions to managing plastic waste after it has been used and discarded (i.e. downstream solutions). Total prize money of £2.25 million.
  • Strand 2Creating Solutions – rewarding innovative solutions to reducing the volume of plastic in packaging and other products before it is used (i.e. upstream solutions). Total Prize money of £1.1 million.
  • Strand 3Promoting Change – rewarding creative campaigns and projects to influence behaviour change among individuals and communities to promote sustainable consumption around plastic. Total prize money of £750,000.

About Challenge Works

For a decade, Challenge Works has established itself as a global leader in designing and delivering high-impact challenge prizes that incentivise cutting-edge innovation for social good. We are a social enterprise founded by the UK’s innovation agency Nesta. In the last 10 years, we have run more than 80 prizes, distributed £84 million in funding and engaged with 12,000 innovators.

Challenge prizes champion open innovation through competition. We specify a problem that needs solving, but not what the solution should be. We offer large cash incentives to encourage diverse innovators to apply their ingenuity to solving the problem. The most promising solutions are rewarded with seed funding and expert capacity building support, so that they can prove their impact and effectiveness. The first or best innovation to solve the problem wins. This approach levels the playing field for unknown and previously untested innovators so that the best ideas, no matter their origin, are brought to bear on the most difficult of global challenges.

Visit us at challengeworks.org