Kibera slum is one of the biggest controversial informal settlements in Kenya with the government claiming the ownership of the land; Kibera community has been left out of the national development plan as we are perceived as opposition friendly community. The community has a mix of 42 ethnic groups living in this area with over 1 million population, most of the communities are practices their traditional believes that literally takes away women rights and give them to men as their custodians. Women in my community have no right to sexual reproductive choices, this makes them more vulnerable to being affected by HIV/AIDs, uncontrolled births, and sexual abuse. Girls in my community are married off early as their families are looking for a bride price, this leads to dropping out of school and becoming child mothers, literally their dreams die. More often they are in abusive marriages with male domination. Women are not supposed to work as it is the role of men to provide for the family this makes them depend on their husbands economically. Being a young mother in Kibera and you’re living with disabilities can even be much more horrible. Therefore KCEO is working with young mothers living with disabilities age 15-24 years to rebuild their self esteem, improve their literacy, hone their leadership skills, digital literacy and social entrepreneurship rebelling against our crooked culture and illiteracy as we disrupt piles of stigma and discrimination facing young mother living with disabilities in Kibera to raise innovative business leaders solving social problems facing our community. KCEO has established an accelerator known as Safe Space that works with extraordinary women entrepreneurs living with disabilities from low-income, urban communities such as Kibera, Mathare, Korokocho and Kawangware slum. We build their self-esteem, develop their leadership development, social entrepreneurship, digital literacy then investing directly into their community-led initiatives and provide the resources and tools needed to help build sustainable enterprises bundled with a year-long 1:1 mentorship, business development, market access and connection to potential investors. By investing in women living with disabilities, we disrupt the cycle of poverty and help bring sustainable development in our community. Over 80% of the incubators in Nairobi are founded with foreigners mostly with the Silicon Valley concept, this requires only elite hence end up locking out potential women entrepreneurs living with disabilities, majority uneducated. These incubators/accelerators in Nairobi operates on excellence and competition, which sometimes disadvantage women living with disabilities, sadly over 99% of the spaces are not disability friendly from the infrastructure to the training framework, this acts as major inhibitors, locking them out of the empowerment spaces. Some families still lock their relatives living with disabilities behind the doors as it is shameful to have the disability in my community, some are subjected on a scorching sun to beg for support with people dropping coins to them as charity, a model that kills their creativity, innovation and inner potential making them believe that they are aid beneficiaries and in some cases making them feel entitlement to this. This way of life no not only degrade their value, humanity and unleashed potential but also increases the family burden hence vicious cycle of poverty. Some women living with disability in my community have resorted to sex work as a way of earning a living, making them more vulnerable to sexual abuse, gender violence, and STI infections
Our incubation program for young mothers living with disabilities is a safe space for persons living with disabilities and has been subjected to stigma and discrimination with ordeals of sexual abuse. We create a safe space that allows them to share and interact with each other to bring healing, they get an opportunity to meet successful women with disabilities, human rights advocates as they learn and explore opportunities available for women with disabilities in Kenya and we link them to the National Disability Society to access more social services and platforms for empowerment. At Safe Space, we define the true meaning of equality by bringing on board women living with disabilities that could not be accepted in any other fancy incubation space, they feel appreciated and respected and we disrupt their damaged self-esteem to unleash their hidden potential for sustainable development. Our incubation space develop their self esteem, pitching skills, public speaking skills, enhancing their digital literacy and encouraging to leverage on the power of technology to access more opportunities as they hone their leadership skills and getting support to advocate for their rights as they compete for local civic positions to champion for policies that empower women with disabilities. After the 3 months of the incubation they learn social entrepreneurship, develop business plans and are connected to pitch to potential investors to help launch off their social ventures addressing social problems facing our community as well as creating jobs and enhancing their economic independence thereby making them independent to make their choices regarding sexual health, going back to school and take care of their children. Our long-term goal is to identify, train, fund and mentor women entrepreneurs living with disabilities looking to drive social change by building enterprises in their own low-income urban communities. We believe that if talented local women living with disabilities are best equipped to build sustainable enterprises in their own low-income communities with their resilience, drive and hard work they can disrupt the status quo and build social ventures addressing their social problems in their respective communities with access to stable, long-term capital is greatly inadequate and we are committed to changing this by providing long-term partnership, encouraging leaders to dream big and build scalable enterprises that otherwise would not be given a chance. We partner with key stakeholders, public and private to help build Safe Space investment fund whose mission is to reach out to women living both in urban and rural areas to help build a pipeline of micro-industries that are women-led and more focused on building a circular economy and creating sustainable change in our communities.