In 2014, Learning Lions, a social enterprise that provides digital training and empowerment programs for rural youth in Africa, embarked on a noble mission to equip young people from remote regions in East Africa with IT skills, opening doors to youth in their native lands. The Bavarian State Chancellery has been a significant partner throughout this journey and has contributed about 1.24 million Euros through two phases for the construction of the ICT campus, accommodations and day care for families using its facilities. This initiative was aimed at creating opportunities for the disadvantaged and addressing the challenges faced by the region’s impoverished communities. Over the years, Learning Lions has made significant strides in this endeavor, impacting the lives of many, while marking key milestones in the field of digital education.
The Google Impact Challenge, Website for the Bavarian Office for Africa, and Beyond
A pivotal moment in 2018 saw Learning Lions secure the Google Impact Challenge, a recognition of their innovative approach to driving social change through technology. This achievement marked a significant milestone not just for Learning Lions but for the entire African continent. The international jury was impressed by the comprehensive nature of their concept and the impact it promises.
In 2020, Learning Lions continued to make waves by becoming the first digital organization worldwide to join the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). This unique status positions them to offer Fair Trade certified digital services, setting ethical standards in the digital domain. Following this, the learning lions further collaborated with the Bavarian office for Africa through the development of a state-of-the-art website for the Office.
A Joint Endeavor with Bavaria: The Startup Lions Campus
In 2020, Learning Lions initiated the development of the inaugural segment of the Startup Lions ICT Campus with financial support from The Bavarian State, Google, SAP, and the Löwenmarsch e.V. team. This segment encompasses the core ICT Center building and integral elements of the campus infrastructure, including an eco-market, a canteen/cafeteria, and a relaxing chill-out area.
The project harmoniously integrates with the natural features of the site, taking inspiration from the region’s termite mounds. Innovative architectural features, including ventilation towers, help regulate the campus temperature and protect IT equipment from dust.
The Startup Lions Campus, situated in the rural town of Loropio at the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, stands as a testament to Learning Lions’ impressive work. This Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) campus addresses a pressing issue in the region: youth unemployment. By providing top-notch training and access to international job opportunities, it empowers young entrepreneurs to flourish professionally without having to leave their home country, effectively combatting the challenges posed by youth unemployment.
A Two-Phase Sustainable Venture
The project unfolds in two significant phases. The first phase involves establishing the ICT campus in a rural area of Kenya, dedicated to digital education and creating sustainable employment opportunities. The expansion phase involves enhancing the infrastructure, constructing additional student accommodations, and introducing a day care center specifically catering to young women at the ICT Campus.
One of the primary objectives of this project is to foster sustainable job creation and address the pressing issue of youth unemployment in the region. The campus offers comprehensive training in programming, graphic design, and media production to approximately 200 students. It has already generated 270 jobs directly and an additional 96 indirect jobs, benefiting the Loropio community. The impact extends beyond the campus itself, with over 30 service sector establishments, predominantly owned by women, emerging as vital sources of livelihood for the community.
The Integrated Approach
Following an integrated approach is what sets this project apart. Recognizing that education plays a critical role in transforming the community, Learning Lions launched an extensive educational program to encourage children to attend school. This educational endeavor began with early child learning centers and expanded to include primary schools and secondary schools. One of the most important impacts of the presence of these educational institutions is challenging the age-old tradition of early marriages, encouraging girls to pursue their education further.
A Vision for the Future
The project’s impact is undeniable, but there is room for growth and enhancement. Future plans include further expansion, enhancing inclusivity for disabled students, and providing additional housing and resources. The project is poised to achieve even more with the infusion of additional financial support.
Learning Lions’ initiative has not only achieved its primary objectives but has gone above and beyond in addressing various other societal concerns, securing the success of the entire initiative. The integration of these projects is the key to their success, fostering a holistic transformation within the community and offering a brighter future for East African youth.