Kenya: Susan Gichobi’s Triumph Through Adversity with Ajira Digital

Program: Ajira Digital Program
Location: Kirinyaga, Kenya

Susan Gichobi, a determined and remarkable young woman from Kirinyaga, Kenya, has defied the odds and risen above adversity to pursue her dreams with the help of the Ajira Digital Program.

The Ajira Digital Program is an initiative that seeks to empower 1 million young people in Kenya to access digital and digitally enabled jobs annually in the gig and freelancing economy. Young people have the opportunity to enrol for the Ajira Digital Job Readiness Skills training to equip them with the skills to participate in the Digital economy.

Susan’s journey unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of education and resilience. Born with a disability that confined her to a wheelchair and raised by a single mother, Susan’s path to success was far from straightforward.

Her educational journey began at the age of 10, as schools in her community initially refused to enrol her due to her disability. Despite these early setbacks, Susan’s determination to learn and succeed never wavered. She not only overcame these initial challenges but also became a trained Early Childhood Development (ECD) teacher, a testament to her unwavering commitment to education.

However, Susan’s journey through college presented its own set of challenges. As one of the few people with disabilities in her class, Susan often felt isolated. The dormitories and classrooms were not wheelchair-accessible, limiting her mobility and independence. With the support of her family, especially her caring grandfather, who always made her feel special, Susan found the strength to persist. She completed her studies despite the obstacles she faced.

One of Susan’s passions is writing, and she has written a 30-chapter novel so far. This ambition led her to the Ajira Digital Program, which provided her with the opportunity to develop her skills in content writing. Through the program, Susan gained invaluable knowledge and support, helping her hone her writing skills and take steps toward realizing her dream.

Today, Susan is an active participant in the digital economy, leveraging her newfound content writing skills to earn a living online. In a good week, she is able to generate between $30 and $40 through transcription and annotation work — a significant achievement in a world where financial independence can be a distant dream for many living with disabilities. Her earnings are a rarity in rural Kenya as this income not only allows her to support herself and her family but also empowers her to chase her dream of becoming a successful writer, she has already authored a fantasy novel and she is currently writing her next novel.

Susan’s story is a true embodiment of resilience, determination, and the incredible power of education and skills development. Through the Ajira Digital Training program, Susan has not only gained the knowledge and skills to secure meaningful online work but has also discovered a supportive community within the Ajira Digital Program, one that understands and values her unique abilities.

Susan’s story serves as a source of inspiration and hope, not only to those living with disabilities but to anyone facing adversity in pursuing their dreams. With the support of the Ajira Digital Program and the skills she has acquired, Susan Gichobi is well on her way to achieving her goal, she says she has never been alone in her journey since she began her training with the Ajira team.   Susan is keen on becoming a role model for countless others and is using her public speaking skills to inspire young people in her community and beyond.   “I should always be the cheerleader to myself and to others,” she says as she talks about what keeps her going and her passion for public speaking.   Her journey is a testament to the impact of programs that enable individuals to overcome barriers and empower themselves through education and skill development.

In a world where the digital economy is growing at an unprecedented rate, the need for digital skills is more critical than ever. The Mastercard Foundation, alongside government agencies, educational institutions, and private sector partners, is working to make digital and online work opportunities more accessible to young men and women like Susan through the Ajira Digital Program. They are investing in programs that provide the necessary training and resources to bridge the digital skills gap, ensuring that Kenyan youth are well-prepared to thrive in the digital age.

Through collaborative efforts, stakeholders are fostering an ecosystem that supports and nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit of young Kenyans. This is not only about providing employment but also about fostering innovation, independence, and economic growth. Susan Gichobi’s journey from adversity to empowerment serves as a shining example of the incredible potential that lies within the Kenyan youth, which can be harnessed through digital opportunities.

As the Mastercard Foundation and its partners continue to invest in initiatives like Ajira, the stories of countless young individuals like Susan will inspire others to harness the power of digital skills and become the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, not only securing their own futures but also the growth and prosperity of Kenya as a whole.