Irene Njeri Gachigua, 2017-2018 Youth Think Tank Researcher

Turning Research into Solutions: What I Learned as a Youth Think Tank Researcher

My name is Irine Njeri Gachigua. I am 21 years old and currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in economics from Moi University, Kenya. I am passionate about working with young people, especially on issue of youth employment. Engaging youth on how to improve their livelihoods gives me great satisfaction because it’s my way of giving back and doing more for my country.

My desire to join the Youth Think Tank (YTT) stems from my experience at CAP-Youth Employment Institute Kenya’s (CAP-YEI) Basic Employability Skills Training program. At CAP-YEI, I met other young people who had completed basic education but had not acquired gainful employment. The majority of students at the institute did not have the means of supporting either themselves or their families, however, my fellow students at CAP-YEI had great visions for themselves. During business ideas brainstorming sessions, I sat and listened to noble business models from my classmates. I then realized that in young people, lies a great capacity to transform their lives.

Coming up with actionable solutions for the challenges that young people face

The YTT gave me a chance to research the challenges faced by young people and to come up with actionable solutions to these problems. Working with the Youth Think Tank enabled me to identify fundamental problems and societal gaps that can be addressed through the actionable and solution-oriented findings from our research.

The potential young people possess inspired me. For the first time, I participated in a research project that had a two-tier structure; young people working to empower other young people through quality research. As a member of the YTT, every single engagement I had with young people during the research process opened my eyes; they had viable economic and social development ideas.

The experience and skills I have gained from being a YTT researcher, will help me empower other young people in my community. I will encourage young people to come out and boldly express their opinions and ideas in matters that affect them. More specifically, I will actively promote the participation of youth in governance and social development opportunities through public awareness. In the future, I will engage with young people — both in school and out of school — through mentorship programs aimed at honing their skills in leadership and helping them to improve their lives by developing self-help ideas.

The YTT has made an indelible mark on my life. I believe that young people can transform their lives and society positively if given the opportunity to voice their concerns, and actively participate in day-to-day leadership activities.

It is a pleasure to have worked with the Youth Think Tank!

Irine Njeri Gachigua is a member of the 2017-2018 Mastercard Foundation Youth Think Tank.