Youth Enterprises

The Zawadi Youth Enterprise Program (ZYEP) is a youth-run zyep logocooperative through which youth generate income and learn valuable business and leadership skills. With Kenya’s unemployment rate reaching 40%, approximately 65% of whom are youth (ages 18-34), ZYEP plays an integral part in the CYEC’s exit-strategy for youth who have graduated from the Centre’s programs. ZYEP members run various enterprises that generate income and move the youth closer to financial independence. The leadership and business skills developed in ZYEP help youth become productive, contributing members of society. Older ZYEP members have the opportunity to move to a Zawadi Eco Village in order to live semi-independently and develop their businesses.


ZYEP was created in 2010 with 5 founding members. Today, there are 25 members managing 10 enterprises. Members can access a small microfinancing fund that can be used to start or expand their enterprises. Read about the various enterprises below:


Agriculture: Five youth manage the CYEC’s “shamba” (garden). They grow carrots, spinach, kale, bananas, potatoes, cabbage, watermelon, onions, etc. They even manage two small greenhouses filled with tomatoes. The shamba’s agricultural products are sold to the Centre to provide food for its residents. Each season, the shamba’s production increases in an effort to one day be able to meet all of the Centre’s food needs.


Livestock: Two ZYEP members keep animals for income generation. Goats and a cow produce milk which is sold to the Centre. Rabbits provide meat. The ZYEP youth use a portion of their profits to invest in more animals.


Youth demonstrate how to use a hay bailer

Hay Bailing: Three ZYEP members manage a hay bailing business that involves using  bailers and scythes, which is rare in Kenya. These youth have been able to capitalize on their unique skills, cutting and bailing hay for local farmers and building bailers for local agribusinesses. The bailers’ popularity has enabled some youth to travel as far as Uganda, marketing their unique skills.



Charcoal Brickets: One ZYEP youth has started “Zawadi Brickets Inc”, a small business that recycles dust waste from charcoal dealers. He combines the traditionally wasted dust with soil and water. The ingredients are mixed in a special machine and dried in the sun. His brickets burn hotter and last 40 minutes longer than traditional charcoal. The brickets are used for cooking.



The ZYEP shop showcases many of ZYEP’s products

ZYEP Shop: The youth opened a small general shop across the street from the Centre. The shop sells staples such as flour, sugar and cooking fat. It also features ZYEP’s other products such as agricultural outputs, honey, jewelry and art.


Bee Keeping: A few youth are managing a colony of bees. They bottle honey and collect wax to make candles.


Tailoring: Two youth manage a tailoring business. They are able to repair the children’s’ clothes and school uniforms. They also sew handbags and headbands for local markets as well as export. Former volunteers from Kansas State University created a US-based LLC called Rafiki Bags in an effort to promote tailoring exports.


Art: Two youth artists currently reside at the CYEC. They use their talents to create paintings, jewelry and colorful shoes made of recycled tires. Read more about art at the CYEC here.


Electronic Waste Project: In Kenya, it is illegal to resell used computers so ZYEP collects electronic waste and turns it into clocks, jewelry and decorations.


Ptah’s Salon: One ZYEP youth has started a small salon in Thunguma village (where the CYEC is located). His salon offers hair styling, manicures and pedicures.