Interview with Terry Wambui Ngugi, Founder of Youth-based Social Development Foundation Tunza Talanta

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Tunza Talanta is a youth-based social development foundation that deals with all sporting activities. The Foundation believes that the most appropriate way to enhance opportunities for the youth to participate in organized sports is not by starting another small program, but by strengthening a carefully selected portfolio of partner programs, which can be under this wider umbrella.

The Foundation achieves its goals through strategic financial investments, the involvement of young leaders, and networking opportunities.

What inspired you to create the Tunza Talanta Foundation?

My inspiration was drawn from the data I collected for my Masters’ thesis back in 2014, in some of the informal settlements of Nairobi County, Kenya. It is during this period, that I realized the more I interacted with the youths from my geographical area of study, the more gaps I saw. Therefore, I decided to use the data I collected to find possible sustainable solutions to address the challenges the youth face, when trying to access recreational facilities for the advancement of their talents and hidden skills. I got to interact with young girls who were victims of early and unplanned pregnancies, and young boys who engaged in anti-social behaviors such as violence, drug abuse and theft in order to generate some income for themselves and possibly their families. I hence thought, if alternative engagements were put forward for the youths to engage in, then some of the anti-social behaviors would be curbed. That is when I decided to create the Tunza Talanta Foundation.

What are some of the challenges you faced when forming Tunza Talanta?

  • I faced a challenge of registering the company and it took me almost a year to get approval, but I thank God it finally went through in 2015 after the vetting was done.
  • I also encountered financial constraints because I was still a student and all I could think of was how I could start the foundation to solve the problems I had encountered with in the community.
  • When I interacted with my target groups at the time, some of them expected some hand-outs in form of monetary which was not easy for me, however I would go back to my pocket and buy snacks or soft drinks for them just as an appreciation.

What are some of the projects that Tunza Talanta is currently working on?

Currently, some of the projects we are working on are:

  • Youth Empowerment through agri-business activities and trainings on how to farm through God’s way
  • Mentorship on Life skills and Advocacy on rights of the youths
  • Sports Coaching for the abled and for persons living with disability
  • Community Service
  • Environmental Conservation and Management

What would you say is your most successful Tunza Talanta program to date?

Our most successful program has been on creating opportunities for the youths to engage in recreational activities which have not been there entirely, for those living in the informal settlements. We have also managed to organize tournaments for persons living with disabilities and this proved to be successful when there was holistic transformation and a sense of inclusion has been embraced across. This program has brought together youths between the age of 8-35 and it has ensured that anti-social behaviors have been curbed, self-esteem among the youth has increased, and talents have been identified and nurtured. Through this, we are hopeful that the youths will earn some income through their participation in organized tournaments and gradually, our main objective will be achieved.

According to a report known as the Global Talent Competitiveness Index, one out of every 6 (or 4 million out of 24 million) young Kenyans is unemployed. What do you think can be done to resolve the situation?

Firstly, identification and nurturing of talented individuals can be done from the early stages of child development, because this way we will be raising a population that is all round in terms of skills, and hidden talents that can be brought out and eventually be used by the youths in generating an income for themselves. I must acknowledge the initiative that the Ministry of Education has taken to change the curriculum to one that embraces not only education acquired from books but also the practical bit of it. Secondly, institutions of higher learning, should have incubators that will train youths on how to use locally available resources for sustainable solutions and more youths will therefore venture into activities that will engage them and eventually realize how much more they could do without entirely relying on white collar jobs.

A report from an organization known as the Population Reference Bureau says that Kenya may lose its position as East Africa’s largest economy due to its youth unemployment crisis. Do you believe this to be true?

Unemployment has been a major menace in our country reason being, majority of the youth believe in white collar jobs which may not be possible, because all sectors of the economy requires a variety of human resources. Kenya on the other hand, has a government that is putting forward all possible opportunities for the youths to engage in. For instance, devolution which has been in existence for the last five years has greatly improved different sectors, (both rural and urban) which I believe it is now up-to the young citizens to tap on the opportunities put forward for them such as: Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO); Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF); Kenya National Youth Policy (KNYP); Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunity Project (KYEOP); and online portal jobs among others. Therefore, I strongly believe that Kenya will NOT lose its position as East Africa’s largest economy.

Which are some of the organizations that Tunza Talanta has formed partnerships with in the past?

It being a young foundation in the making, we have managed to form partnerships with a few institutions which are;

  • The Pollination Project in California
  • The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (C.U.E.A)
  • National Council of Persons living with Disability (NCPWD) – Hon. Mohammed Gabbow (C.E.O)
  • Para-Volley Federation of Kenya – Polycarp Mboya (President)
  • Wasili Kenya Safaris – Julius Kamau (Managing Director)
  • Kenya Forestry Conservator

What are Tunza Talanta’s plans for the near or distant future?

In the future, it is our hope that we will reach out to more youths in various counties within the country and further partner with institutions that will support our aim of ensuring that recreational facilities are made available to the persons living with disabilities and the youths in general. We will provide platforms where the youths can engage more in agri-business as an income generating activity for them and their families. This will ensure that anti-social behaviors are curbed among them and the vicious cycle of poverty existing in the society is broken through alternative engagements.

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