Nyahururu, Keyna – June 22, 2011 – On June 17 and 18, 2011 a historic meeting occurred in the city of Kisumu, Nyanza Province, Kenya, Africa, between 43 young entrepreneurs belonging to the Kikuyu and Luo tribes, two groups that, back in 2008, were involved in inter-ethnic violence when political unrest enveloped the country. Now, however, thanks to Heartland International, a non-profit organization based in Chicago, IL, working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State, these two groups are agreeing to work in harmony, create stability and share businesses strategies together.
Beginning in June 2010, Heartland International hosted 10 young entrepreneurs from Nyanza in Chicago for 8 weeks of business training and internships. In March, 2011, Heartland conducted business mentoring and training for an additional 17 young entrepreneurs in Kisumu and Ugunja in the Nyanza province, a predominantly Luo area, on the western side of the country. Heartland is currently working in the town of Nyahururu in the Rift Valley, a Kikuyu stronghold, conducting four weeks of business skills training and business consulting for 20 young business owners. Of these 20, ten will be selected to come to Chicago for four-week internships.
On the recent June weekend, Heartland held the inaugural meeting in Kisumu of Kenyan Young Entrepreneurs Association, including all 43 Kenyan entrepreneurs from both Nyahururu and Kisumu who have participated in the program. The 20 Rift Valley participants traveled west by bus to Kisumu to meet their peers and then spent hours talking about business and how they can work together. Heartland is helping them form this association to facilitate collaboration in the business sector that will strengthen businesses and opportunities for youth in entrepreneurship and create a neutral, business-driven environment where ethnic differences will have little impact.
In the fall, when the 10 Nyahururu participants are selected for the one month Chicago internships, they will be hosted by the U.S. business leaders who are currently training them. At that time they will also take part in tailored workshops, seminars, business plan development and cultural activities. In the end, it is hoped that the Kenya Young Entrepreneurs Program will be the catalyst for expanded interest in entrepreneurship in Kenya and a stronger business sector.
About Heartland International
Heartland International is a non-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. Established in 1989, the organization designs and implements international training and professional exchange programs that promote social justice, strengthen civil society and foster economic development while empowering citizens to lead change in their societies. These programs provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and best practices that empower participants to pursue their common goal – changing their communities one step at a time.