Ken Oloo works to end youth unemployment for young people from informal housing such Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ken Oloo grew up surrounded by abject poverty. And yet, he was ambitious. At an early age, he vowed that by the time he was 25 years-old, he would be on the cover of Fortune or Time magazines.
When he was nine years-old, he began to use his father’s camera to take pictures. Soon, he met other photographers who taught him the craft of photography and film.
After high school, Ken took up photography full time, earning money by filming weddings and events. As he tried to escape from poverty, he took any photography job to make money.
As a 25-year-old, he took a photography assignment in Kampala, Uganda. One day he saw a little boy, about four or five years old, naked, wandering around the streets. Ken snapped a few pictures of him. After Ken showed the pictures to a friend, she went to her home, gathered some clothing and dressed the little boy.
It was then that Ken realized the power of photography to make a dent in abject poverty. He resigned from his job and decided to take pictures in the slums, first in Uganda and later in the informal housing settlements (slums) near Nairobi, Kenya. While working in Nairobi, he met a friend who had worked with the youth in Kibera to make award-winning films.
Ken remembered the people who had helped him to learn photography and film-making. He began to pay that kindness forward by teaching photography to young people living in Kibera. “When you have skills,” Ken told me, “people don’t care most of the time, what is your background. If you have a good photograph, it is a good photograph.”
Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds do not have access to meaningful work. Filamujuani teams them film-making and photography. Filamujuani helps them to find work at weddings and events. This way the young people can earn enough to graduate from high school and college.
High school students can earn between $20 and $200 per engagement. For college-age students, Filamujuani works with corporate clients to make commercials and documentaries. Filamujuani also helps older students set up their own production studios.
Filamujuani goes beyond teaching the skills of film production and focus on shifting mindsets. They help their students learn entrepreneurship.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Ken Oloo
“I didn’t begin my career knowing that I would have ended up here. Honestly, if I knew how it would have turned out, I would have walked away.”
“If you’re going to do this work, where you’re trying to have a social impact, it’s hard work and most of the time, you’re going against the grain.”
“It’s moments like that, when we have been given work not because we are from the slums, but because we are good, that has affirmed for the students that, no one cares where you are from. “
“Where you are from is just the beginning of your story. It’s just the setup. It’s not the end.”
“We never allow our students to introduce themselves as people from the slums. We don’t care.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
More Stories of Sustainable Development Goal 1, No Poverty
In 2017, we’re emphasizing the Sustainable Development Goals. In January, we’re focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 1, No Poverty. Today’s episode is the fifth in this series. You can read more about Sustainable Development Goal 1 here. Or learn about the Sustainable Development Goals here.
Are You Ready to Start or Scale a Social Business?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how I would like the world to be different. What about you? What’s the big change you want to see in the world? Do you have a social good project in mind? Social Entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful tools we have to create sustainable, systemic change. That’s why in February, I’m running two webinars: Start Your Social Good and Scale Your Social Good.
Do you have an idea to start a business with a social impact? Are you ready to start your social good? Attend this free webinar on February 1st. Seats are limited, so sign up today at http://tonyloyd.com/startnow.
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