Structures and systems are part of what makes a great entrepreneurial venture, yet often times, this is a neglected truth among the youth. However, in Huruma, Nairobi a group of young entrepreneurs are reaping fruits after months of hard work, commitment and reflection. With two full time employees and an average income of $2,095/month, Pacific Arts and Training (PAT) are a happy lot. Within one and a half years, under the mentorship of Ongoza's Nairobi County Business Advisor, Pacific has more than quadrupled their revenue from the earlier $489/month, redesigned their organizational structure, developed their strategic plan and refined their financial records. We had a chat with PAT on their journey and lessons thus far, this is their story.
Who are Pacific Arts and Training?
PAT is a community based organization of Artists and Trainers which started in December 2007 with the aim of identifying and nurturing artistic talents and creating a platform where young people can earn from artistic expressions while being given relevant life-skills to help them survive in harsh low income environment without resorting to crime or other anti-social behavior.
What motivates you?
It is seldom that a person gets paid to do what they love. Art is our first love (Also read We Love What We Do). It is a hobby turned business. The fact that we get raw talent and turn it into a product someone is willing to pay for is to us a great thing. We are bringing positive change in our community and young people are earning a shilling from their efforts
What are some of your proudest moments?
One of our proudest moment was when some of our members were contracted by Youth Initiatives Kenya through our partner Nzumari Africa as life-skill trainers and during that training we identified two ladies (participants) whom we invited to join our organization. Currently one of them is in the process of becoming an international trainer through Dance 4 Life international and the other is member of our board. This shows that PAT positively and directly impacts the community.
What are some of the lessons that you have drawn from Ongoza that you can share with other youth?
Ongoza is a reservoir of information and skills that is freely given but with immense value. Constant engagement with Ongoza is one way to accelerate organizational growth because of the eye openers offered
What are some of the achievements of the partnership with Ongoza?
PAT prepared a 3 year strategic plan which is being implemented (we have 2 employees) and a working board. We also streamlined our finance department and now we track our finances. Moreover, in 2016, through recommendation of Ongoza, PAT accessed Pollination Project grant and successfully implement the 'creative arts for empowerment' project- using puppets and theater to spread outreach messages on gender based violence, HIV/Aids and crime among other social issues.
Through the Nairobi County Business Advisor, PAT has also been able to organize meetings with other development partners.
What is your proudest Ongoza moment?
When PAT requested help with formulation of its strategic plan, the response was great and the fact that apart from our County Business Advisor, three more Ongoza staff including Alexei (Ongoza's, Executive Director) were present, told us that Ongoza is committed to our growth and development.
Today you are youth, tomorrow you’ve grown and moved on, what are you doing to inspire young talent?
We share our experiences and skills with our young members. We also provide opportunities for our young members to lead by giving them leadership tasks and a mentor to help them achieve the desired outcomes. Currently each person in leadership within PAT has a young person they are mentoring, some have two or three younger members under their wing.
Photo Credit: Pacific Arts & Training