The seed for NairoBits was planted back in 1999, when Emer Beamer and Hester Ezra. They figured out ICT as a tool for changing lives of the young and vulnerable in the community. They would then start a web design institute where they would use their expertise in multimedia to make a difference in the lives of the young people from informal settlements.. They were later joined by Ineke Aquarius, Fiona Whelan, Faith Longwe. Organizations like the East African Internet Association, Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and Kuona Trust also joined in.
After securing funds from the Prince Claus fund, the Dutch Embassy, ICCO, Cordaid and Mama Cash, in January 2000 the training of 20 students from MYSA began.
By the end of two months each youth had made his/her own website with self-made photos of their city, a story written about their new home on a virtual island, a self-portrait, a group animation on a self-chosen theme, and had taken part in an online exchange with Dutch students. The youth learned to work with software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Dreamweaver, Microsoft Word, GIF Builder and Netscape. They also learnt to scan, print and maintain the computers.
The works made were exhibited in the National Museum of Kenya, this was also the first digital exhibition to take place there. The media was attracted by the story and Dutch Filmmaker Rein Hazenwinkel made a documentary as did the BBC.
To ground the project and capitalize on the momentum generated, Faith Longwe the then project manager, founded a Kenyan trust to work together with the foundation in Amsterdam (Stitching Nairobits).
Brick by brick, not without disappointments, they gradually institutionalized a new organizational approach and educational method based on creativity leading to self-confidence, African content and jobs in the ICT sector. The impact has since been noted by international awards, but most satisfyingly by employment for graduating students.