Susan Mwihaki Maina grows where she is planted. Place her where a need is and see for yourself: The impact she would make while tackling that need is unfathomable.
The real gems of Africa, a place of many needs, are its entrepreneurial minds which are capable of seeing those needs and solving them using the limited resources available. Entrepreneurial minds see needs and opportunities through the same lens. And Susan is one of them.
She has created innovations and dedicated her efforts towards quality education in marginalized areas. In the quest to gain more knowledge and create more impact, she recently participated in The ALX Launchpad Program, a leadership program which is a sub group of the Africa Leadership Group.
During the program, she stood out among her peers and was selected to represent Kenya as a delegate for the Youth to Youth Summit that is set to take place from 28th of May to 1st June.
Susan believes that Africa needs to get a microphone of its own, turn it up loud and tell its own story. She can’t wait to get to the summit and do just that. Due to her work, her story isn’t hers alone: It bears the voices of many other young leaders and visionaries in her community.
Fortunately, her selection wasn’t just as a delegate but also as a speaker. The platform, therefore, awaits her and for her full exploitation of it, she needs your support. She is required to raise $2000 to cater for accommodation, delegate fees, food, and transport.
Susan’s thirst for knowledge has seen her take part in other leadership programs. It is in one of those that I met her. We had both been selected from our different campuses to join Akili Dada Emerging Leaders, a Program that was aimed at equipping ladies in campus to actively participate in leadership. Susan stood out as a charismatic, confident and passionate lady while boldly sharing her community ambitions. She won the hearts of many while at it.
When Susan was set to join university, she made her selection based on how far it would be from the environment she was used to, a decision she would later regret. She wanted new experiences in a new space.
Her stay in school was fine until she met her peers from other universities during the holidays. All they talked about was their interactions with corporates during career fairs and the cool activities in their institutions. Her university didn’t have those so she felt left out and isolated from opportunities and information.
For the first time, lack of quality education in marginalized communities had a new meaning. She always applied the lack to primary and secondary schools. It dawned on her that it cut across as tertiary institutions faced the same problem. She began questioning her school choice and wanted to be where the action was. Even then, she knew that it was too late to make any campus changes.
Her friends put her on reflection mode and enabled her to see that the status quo had to change: It was time to make disruptions. Susan quickly identified a specific need that needed solving: She had noticed that when starting school, the class had 150 people but on checking the statistics, the number had reduced to about 90 by the second year. What had happened? Most students could not keep up with university life. It was too expensive and so they dropped out.
To solve this problem, our gem, Susan, co-founded an initiative at Chuka University that provided soft loans to students to support their upkeep and tuition fee. The initiative served to reduce the number of students who dropped out due to lack of fees and upkeep money.
By third year, 50 students had benefited from the microfinance project. This would earn her recognition from the school as a first initiative of its kind. It also secured her a place at YALI, a program by former US president Barack Obama for young leaders under the Entrepreneurship and Business cohort.
Opportunities didn’t seem so aloof from her environment anymore.
On getting back from YALI, the thirst to transform her campus community had not been quenched in the least bit. If anything, it had gone wild. She had to do more. Through a partnership with AIESEC Club, she formed Zinduka hub, whose aim was to create an equal platform for all students to access opportunities and knowledge despite coming from rural campuses which are usually left out and unable to compete favorably with others.
The hub’s first event was held in 2016. Its focus was on engaging youth in localizing the Sustainable Development Goals, which had been launched in 2015. It attracted 10 young people, whom they worked with.
The third Zinduka event, which was held last year, attracted a number of speakers, including Kisumu County’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth and has tremendously grown. It is now a community of 200 students who receive mentorship and opportunities to express their different talents.
Mwihaki, who hails from Nakuru County, believes that everyone deserves an opportunity to dream and access information. She has consistently shown dedication to young people through providing sustainable solutions for them. She strongly believes that quality education holds the power to equip youths to transform their lives.
Her current dream is to represent Kenya in the International Youth to Youth Summit in Hong Kong. She hopes that it will soon be held in Africa, which she feels is ready for it.
Her goal is to initiate conversations to make that happen and create more opportunities for African youth. You can check progress, support her quest, and help create more impact through this link.