At his co-shared garage space, Ibrahim Kapoko Lomuriat, a 29-year old motorcycle repairman speaks about how his experience with the Skills for Life Project expanded his life and changed it.
“My relationship with Swisscontact started in 2016. I heard about them in the community during the time they were advertising for vocational training here in Lokichogio. At that time, they were teaching computer repair. I took some days to think about the opportunity they presented and decided it would be a good idea to register for the training. Unfortunately, I found the intake already full, and I was advised to wait for the next one scheduled to take place in the next three months. I didn’t mind the wait because I was working at a workshop that sells motorcycle spare parts and supporting my five siblings and mother.”
The Skills for Life project facilitators were true to their word and after three months offered another training - this time in motorcycle repair.
“I was very pleased that the training was in motorcycle repair as I was fascinated with motorbikes. I was already learning from the sale of spare parts, but I yearned to gain more knowledge. I registered for the sessions and began training in my learning group immediately. The training centre was located about three kilometres away, and I would walk to and fro each day and when lucky, would hitch a lift. I enjoyed the training and followed the trainers advise of being keen in class so that I grasp most concepts. I especially enjoyed learning to wire.”
The training wasn’t just about technical skills. Swisscontact provided extra content which Ibrahim found valuable.
“We were taught life skills; how to handle customers and other aspects of a business. We were also taught the importance of saving and how to go about it, how to spend money wisely and even sales and marketing, which I found very interesting. Once training was complete, we split our learning group into business groups. We were fortunate that the project gave us the stock and spares parts we had trained with including a welding generator to start our enterprise.”
Ibrahim’s experience with working in a group was not the best, but he managed to rise above the chaos and strike out on his own.
“I was part of the business group for about four months. It wasn’t good. Some people work well in groups, and others don’t. In my case, I would do most of the work while the others hang around. They rarely put in the effort to ensure our clients left happy and satisfied with our services. This bothered me as we were deliberately reducing our chances of repeat business. The group also faced a theft problem as some members would borrow some tools claiming to have a job somewhere and disappear with them. I don’t like conflicts, so I decided to sort myself out. I used some of my savings to buy a toolbox and began scouting for a property to open my garage. I decided to partner with a serious-looking entrepreneur who dealt with the sale of spare parts right in town.”
"I tactfully set up shop right in front of his business space to attract customers. This strategy increased my chances of growing my client base and my income as when a client purchased a spare part from him, they would come to me to fix their bike and vice versa."
Today, Ibrahim is running a stable business that he admits has been good for him.
“It has changed my life. I’m certain that there is no day my family will sleep hungry. I make my own money now, and I don’t have to beg. I can now afford to take my children to private schools where the quality of education is better. I hope they will study hard till university, so they don’t struggle as I have. I continue to support my mother and siblings.”
Not only has he benefited, but Ibrahim finds time to help others reach for their goals.
“I want to be the best at what I do, so I try to learn something new every day. I have trained three youth in my community on the skill and today they offer a helping hand at the garage. I aim to expose more youth and particularly my family to the skill so that they can experience the benefits of working hard and value their work. I also advise my peers about going forward with their ideas. I encourage them to dream big so they can change their destinies and never to turn down a training opportunity.”
Ibrahim wants to continue growing personally and professionally.
“Eventually, I plan to return to school to study engineering, but for now, I have been saving because I soon want to own my own working space. Presently, I make between CHF 273 to CHF 319 a month, and I’m able to save up to CHF 18 a day when business is good. This is far much more than the CHF 6 I was earning from selling spare parts. I have built trust with most of my clients who often are willing to queue long hours so that I handle their requests. I’ve also challenged myself to build a bike from scratch since I understand how they operate now. Once complete, I will use it as a means of transport to enhance my business outreach. I feel good about everything. I’ve gained respect from my neighbours and my community because very few youths in our area have been successful in running a business for this long.”
Ibrahim works seven days a week and is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure his clients are comfortable and content. During his free time, he likes to read books, take a walk and watch movies.
Promoting Life Skills and Livelihoods - Skills for Life (S4L)
Skills for Life is currently in its third phase of implementation. It seeks to strengthen the income-generating capabilities of youth from the host and refugee communities in Kakuma by enhancing their technical, financial, life and literacy skills. Skills for Life is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact.