BitsAscend: Heading for the skies
On October 27th, NairoBits held its biggest event of the year, gathering over hundreds of virtual attendees from its community. The event was a celebration of impact created over 2 decades of working with youth from informal settlements and low income backgrounds. BitsAscend also marked a new awakening for the organization as it featured launches of 4 important organizational tools in under two hours filled with fun, nostalgia and sharing.
Speaking at the event, our Executive Director, Ms. Magdalene Wanjugu highlighted the lessons that NairoBits has gained over the last 2 ½ years and how that period has defined the organization’s direction going forward. She spoke of how NairoBits has been testing its way of operations since 2019 and trying to innovate around that. COVID-19 also provided acceleration to the innovation process birthing the 5 year strategic plan with its value positioned around educating and innovating to transform lives.
The NairoBits model is deeply rooted in partnerships and as such BitsAscend featured speeches from partners who spoke very highly of the organization and the work undertaken together. Representing the community based partners, Margaret Kariuki from Ruben Centre spoke of the levels of engagement that NairoBits offers students and the lengths that the staff go to in assuring quality in all programs. Having drawn lessons from such engagements and having scoped the market, NairoBits also launched a new curriculum for the Innovation and Technology program ensuring top-not graduates who are responsive to market needs.
Featuring the consulting for good model that NairoBits has adopted as its sustainability plan, Mr. John Isika, the operations lead encouraged attendees to bring their design challenges to NairoBits. He spoke of the tools that NairoBits uses to come up with tailored solutions. Ms. Vicky Aridi, the youth coordinator at Fairtrade Africa and an award-winning young person, affirmed the concept and gave testimony to the quality of work that NairoBits offers when consulting. She drew examples from previous Fairtrade assignments that NairoBits has handled to satisfaction.
“The story of NairoBits is incredibly unlikely. Starting in 1999, the co-founders were passionate about creating digital opportunities for youth in Kenya. We struggled a lot to convince people about our half-baked idea on the internet and youth; a concept which was new and on a continent that we did not even come from”
-Emer Beamer, NairoBits Co-founder
During the event, the organization launched a new organizational website on nairobits.com that would encourage engagement with the community. The Website, made by inhouse talent and with the skills that are passed on to their students, is an excellent platform showcasing NairoBits’ work and models of operation clearly. This launch was backed by a sexual & reproductive health resource known as iACCESS. This is an online hub that connects youth to information and services for wholesome wellness and was achieved through the support of partners such as IDEO.org, the Right Here Right Now 2 Kenyan Consortium and Youth-in-Action.
By the end of BitsAscend, it was clear that NairoBits has an agile self-renewing culture and has survived many periods to get to 22 years of existence. The organization also communicated its direction going forward and committed to creating wide-spread impact for Kenyan youth. Ending the event in high spirits, Mr. Sam Nyamwange, the Sustainability Lead, invited attendees and the NairoBits community to contribute to transforming the lives of underserved youth by partnering, volunteering and donating to the organization.