His foundation transforms the lives of vulnerable youth

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat

What you need to know:

  • Frankline maximised his time by learning how to fix computers and laptops through YouTube.
  •  The opportunity for him to test his skills came after one of his competitor’s computer broke-down.
  • “He asked me to call the same technician who fixed my computer, but I offered to fix it. He gave me the benefit of doubt and to his surprise, I restored the gadget to perfect use.
  • "I was paid Sh3,000 and from that moment, I knew this is what I want to do for a living.”


By WINNIE ONYANDO
He has known life in all its colours, and experienced it in all its depths and shallows. He knows what it means to lack and what it means to have. Born and raised in Mathare slums, Frankline Ojiambo has learnt the hard way that the only way to survive is to be tough and independent.

Frankline, 33, is now a pillar to many through his organisation dubbed Franky’s Foundation that offers free technical training to vulnerable youth. He says that Franky’s Foundation has provided green skills training to vulnerable young women and refugees, and that more than 800 beneficiaries have graduated from the vocational training centre since its inception.

“I am glad that out of those who have benefited from the programme, 15 per cent are operating successful businesses. A good number of them got jobs as technicians in local ICT firms,” Franklyn said. 

He says that while growing up, they lived from hand to mouth. “I was raised by a single mum who struggled to feed my siblings and I. Getting money for school fees was a big problem.”

Tired of struggling to make ends meet, his mother decided to move back to their village in Budalangi, Busia County. However, things took a new turn after Frankline completing his primary education. He was taken to a nearby day secondary school where he had to walk every day, even in bad weather.

Although he never qualified for university after sitting for his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) in 2007, giving up was not in Frankline’s vocabulary.

“I travelled back to Nairobi in 2008 to hustle. I started as a houseboy in Donholm. I used to do general cleaning, take the children to school and also feed the pets,” he says.

Later, Frankline got another job as a dish washer at a local hotel. His pay was Sh100 fee per day. After a few more temporary jobs, he was employed as a groundsman at Moi Forces Academy, and was later promoted to a kitchen boy in 2009.

“I was very hardworking. I enjoyed cleaning the dishes and the dining hall. One of the senior teachers recognised my efforts and opened a cyber-shop where he put me in charge. He paid me Sh3,500 monthly. 

“This was a game changer for me. It is there that I learnt to do clerical jobs such as typing, printing and scanning documents for customers. I worked hard every day as I looked forward to my monthly salary,” he adds.

However, there was a time when his computer got damaged. 

“I waited for three weeks for the problem to be fixed. At this point, I was living from hand to mouth. Things were tough but eventually my employer managed to get a technician who fixed the problem.”

His appetite for learning how to fix computers and laptops was born during that period.

“I was shocked that what had stalled my work for three weeks was fixed in just 30 minutes. This impressed me and I resolved to learn how to fix computers.”

Frankline maximised his time by learning how to fix computers and laptops through YouTube.  The opportunity for him to test his skills came after one of his competitor’s computer broke-down.

“He asked me to call the same technician who fixed my computer, but I offered to fix it. He gave me the benefit of doubt and to his surprise, I restored the gadget to perfect use. I was paid Sh3,000 and from that moment, I knew this is what I want to do for a living.”

Making Sh3,000 in 30 minutes as opposed to waiting for 30 days to get the same amount as his salary greatly inspire and motivated him.

He vowed to pursue a technical course, and continued sharpening his skills. He challenged himself every day and built his networks. In 2010, opportunity met preparation. One of his friends connected him to a job.

“I fixed his computer and received a Sh15,000 payment within just three hours! After this, I enrolled for a diploma course in ICT at the Computer Society of Kenya.”

It is after working for nine years that Frankline started his foundation.

“My goal was to continue using Information, communication, and technology to create opportunities for women, girls, the youth, and refugees, and to help eradicate poverty in Kenya.” Franky’s Foundation has its headquarters at Norwich House.

The Foundation has collaborated with the Ministry of ICT, the Nairobi County government, SHOFCO, Skills Maishani and other organisations to ease the burden of unemployment among vulnerable youths, women, girls, and refugees. They provide free training on computer, laptops and smartphone repair and maintenance services, as well as green (recycling) skills.

This year, the foundation was awarded a catalytic fund of Sh2.6 million by the IRC (International Rescue Committee) and successfully carried out joint activities that were implemented from January 8 to March 31, 2023. The aim of the activities was to change the lives of vulnerable youth and refugees through hands-on training.

“We currently have enrolled 50 vulnerable youth (31 male and 19 female), into the three-month training programme which will equip them with knowledge on how to repair, maintain and manage e-wastes from used and discarded computers, laptops and smartphones by collecting, repairing, refurbishing, and then reselling them to the community. This will protect our environment from further pollution and mitigate climate change,” Frankline told myNetwork.

The programme targets refugees, physically challenged women/girls, vulnerable, impoverished, and marginalised youth, school dropouts and people with disabilities.

Frankline was voted president of the Strathmore School of Business Entrepreneurship Class of 2023, and he is set to graduate in October this year.

He is also the chairman of Youths for Kenya (YFK), a non-partisan development and advocacy group for Kenyan youth.