In 2016, Safaricom embarked on a journey to come up with its most ambitious project yet. BLAZE- a new network created for young people by young people. Safaricom saw that with its increasing customer base, customers within the age between 18-26 years had different needs.
Since its inception, BLAZE has created a platform that gives youth the freedom to decide how you want to use their air time, an empowerment initiative dubbed Be Your Own Boss, aka B.Y.O.B, and the BLAZE BYOB TV Show. BLAZE saw the fact that Kenyan youth are a talented lot, but passion alone doesn’t enable them to achieve their dreams. Thus, they came up with training, mentorship, and networking programs to help them to not only reach their goals, but also equipp them with the skills to enable them to be successful in their endeavours. At the BLAZE summits, participants were encouraged to audition for the BLAZE B.Y.O.B TV show. They are currently hosting BLAZE summits around the country.
Through the BLAZE B.Y.O.B TV show that aired on KTN, the contestants’ ideas were amplified to a wider Kenyan audience, empowering not only those who participated in the contest, but also non-participants who had the foresight of better possibilities.
The TV show brought together 12 contestants from all walks of life but the one to beat was Valentine Nekesa, a 19-year-old part-time designer and model, who against all odds clinched the 5-million-shilling prize. The judges found her to be the most promising young and upcoming entrepreneur through her prowess in tackling intensive real-life challenges and her outstanding business plan.
A third-year student at Mount Kenya University, Valentine started her endeavour out of need and grew from designing costumes during fashion shows using book covers, bedsheets, towels and cartons to running a successful fashion line, V-designs for plus size women. She stated that because of BLAZE, she has learnt how to harness her leadership skill and channel it into her business. With the money, she hopes to expand her business and create employment, therefore attracting investors to the Kenyan fashion sector.
Angela Githuthu-Ngaamba is Safaricom’s Youth Segment Lead and is in charge of developing and creating products targeting the youth among them the BLAZE Youth network. The network has given youth around the country access to different empowerment programs. Having studied IT, Angela has worked with numerous brands, both locally and internationally through marketing and influencing policy in the technology sector. She has however chosen to work with Safaricom, where she will have a more direct impact on the youth by helping them change their lives through technology and enabling them to better their tomorrow.
The two women were recently named among the 2017 Top 40 under 40 Women by the Business Daily which seeks to recognize the most prominent and the most influential women under 40 in Kenya each year.
Thanks to BLAZE by Safaricom, young people across Kenya learn that the future belongs to those who see possibilities in doing what they are passionate about and that they can do whatever they put their minds to as long as they are focused, dedicated and disciplined.