Kenya’s second-largest city, Mombasa, is a melting pot of rich Swahili culture. Of the 1.3M locals who call it home, more than


are youth.

Despite their aspirations and career dreams, nearly half of the city’s youth are either unemployed or working in informal jobs and struggling to make ends meet due to the lack of opportunities.

Investing in Opportunity Youth

Swahilipot Hub Foundation (Swahilipot), a community-driven organization that promotes entrepreneurship, technology, creative arts and skills development, is working to support the ecosystem around “opportunity youth,” who are defined as young people (ages 16-24) who are not enrolled in school nor participating in the labor market. Their range of programs includes training workshops, mentorship programs, networking events and access to co-working spaces.

“We mentor and support youth to seize opportunities around them and showcase that it’s possible to make a decent living through designing and executing solutions unique to our coastal community,” said Mahmood Noor, founder of Swahilipot. Incredibly, to date, Swahilipot has mentored more than 4,000 members, with 65% of them being youth.


A Young Entrepreneur with an Airbnb Business

Joan Otieno, a 28-year-old travel entrepreneur, is among the thousands of inspiring young people the organization has supported. “My life’s passion is offering unique travel experiences to local and international tourists who visit Mombasa and show them what we have to offer,” she says.

Her journey with Swahilipot began when she stumbled across an online training opportunity advertisement for aspiring Airbnb entrepreneurs.. During the training, they learned the intricacies of the business and they were tasked to design bespoke experiences for potential clients.

Joan launched Experience Mombasa, which curates experiences for travelers centered around Mombasa’s street food culture. To date, she has hosted more than 100 guests from all over the world. “The training at Swahilipot challenged me to be creative and turn my passion into a business to earn an income. It also gave me the skills and confidence to keep attracting more clients,” she says.

In the future, Joan hopes to expand her services in the wider African region. She advises young people: “Be willing to try entrepreneurship and seek out community organizations in your area that offer skilling and training opportunities for young people. Do not look down on your abilities—we all have an opportunity to shine.”

Be willing to try entrepreneurship and seek out community organizations in your area that offer skilling and training opportunities for young people. Do not look down on your abilities—we all have an opportunity to shine.
Joan Otieno, Program participant of Swahilipot Hub

Building Partnerships and Paving the Way for Change

We invested in Swahilipot because of their unique approach to supporting youth development through direct interventions and their collaborative structure through partnerships with youth skilling organizations, the private sector, Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVETs) and the county government.

As the anchor partner for the Global Opportunity Youth Network (GOYN) initiative in Mombasa, Swahilipot has partnered with Global Development Incubator (GDI) to bring together local development partners, policymakers, employers and youth skilling organizations in the county to address the youth unemployment challenges and increase skilling, employment or entrepreneurship opportunities.

GOYN Mombasa aims to shift outcomes for 40,000 youth and influence stakeholders, impacting communities through sustainable initiatives.Through this initiative they also support youth serving Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) in adopting data-driven approaches that make their interventions more effective.

To increase investment in youth skilling pathways, Swahilipot partners with policymakers, employers, investors and civil society leaders. Pwani Innovation Week is a popular annual event that Swahillipot hosts, bringing together their various stakeholders, partners and youth to foster a widespread culture of innovation in the coastal counties of Kenya

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Swahilipot has also crafted bespoke programs for youth in institutions of higher education. Through their “Campus Ambassador” program, they create awareness of the opportunities and benefits Swahilipot provides young people, including Pitching Thursday, a platform for young entrepreneurs to share and receive feedback on their ideas or ventures from investors and professionals. So far, they have supported more than ten ventures aiding them in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Closing Thoughts

Organizations like Swahilipot are broadening the range of learning and skilling solutions for young people in their local communities and environments, eliminating the multiple barriers many face. Swahilipot also elevates youth voices and ensures that during the process of ideation, design and implementation of programmes, the youth of Mombasa are at the center and have the opportunity to advocate for their needs and effect change in their communities.

“This youthfulness [of Africa] signifies a powerful asset—a vibrant workforce and a resourceful population capable of shaping our economy,” says Mahmoud Noor, founder of Swahilipot. We couldn’t agree more and are excited to partner and learn alongside Swahilipot as they impact the continent’s future generation. .