The Leap Hubs initiative to expose talented students in secondary schools to entrepreneurship and leadership alongside academics started in 2013.
It was kick started by the Kenya Chapter of Global Peace Foundation (GPF), with pilot projects in nine schools in Nairobi and Kiambu counties. Today, the initiative is alive in 24 schools in Nairobi, Kiambu, Mombasa, Siaya, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Kajiado and Kwale counties. GPF Kenya Country Director Daniel Juma said Leap Hubs was focused on developing leadership rooted in character, entrepreneurship, creativity and good conduct. Among the most ardent supporters of the initiative is industrialist and philanthropist Manu Chandaria whose Chandaria Foundation in 2014 donated 25 laptops shared among the nine pioneer schools. The Intel Corporation in March last year emulated Chandaria with a donation of 30 computers worth Sh1.5 million to nine girls schools. Other partners who have contributed to the success of the project include Google through an online safety campaign to empower Leap Hubs students to become webrangers by ensuring they are safe and aware of the risks while online researching for their businesses. The Centre for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education in Africa whose director, Stephen Njoroge is a Leap Hubs enthusiast has provided requisite training to Leap Hubs teachers.
The UN Habitat in conjunction with Samsung Construction and Trade Company has refurbished Leap Hubs incubation centres in select schools. Leap Hubs business ideas that have evolved into viable enterprises include a solar powered water purification plant at Moi Forces Academy. The water is sold at cheaper prices to the school, the neighbouring Ndururuno Secondary School and the Aga Khan hospital. Equally fascinating is a business project by Leap Hubs students of Kariobangi North Girls High School in Nairobi that makes soaps and weaves mats from bamboo. The students are able to buy books, sanitary pads and other essential items from the sales to populations in their neighbourhood and many have envisaged doing similar businesses after they complete their studies at the school. That is the route 24-year-old Eugene Githu, a former student at Moi Forces Academy, took with considerable success after he stepped out in 2011 with a mean grade of B+. He decided to put the skills he had gleaned at the agriculture club into practical use before he could go to university. “I had been admitted at the University of Nairobi to do a course I did not prefer,” he says with a chuckle, “so I thought,’ why not take a calculated detour?’
By Joe Ombuor