The Ajira Digital program is empowering the youth in Kenya with knowledge and skills on online work leading to improved economic livelihoods for trained youth who pursue online work with zeal and determination with a view of growing a decent income. This is evidenced by the high impact story as told by one of the project beneficiaries below who did not have prior experience on online work before the Ajira Digital program but after undergoing training and mentorship; she has transformed from a newbie into full time online work freelancer and has earned over Kes 300, 000 to date.
‘My name is Lila Kiwelu. I learnt about the Ajira training through a tweet by a colleague on Twitter. I have previously heard of online work but I did not know how to go about it. I registered my details on the Ajira Digital portal and I was selected to attend week two of Ajira Digital training at Kenya Education Management Institute (KEMI). The training was quite detailed and I gained knowledge on various areas of online work particularly the platforms and the skills required for the different types of online jobs. My particular interest was in transcription, data entry and web research. Besides, I attained knowledge on etiquette which has come in handy when dealing with online clients; especially when communicating and negotiating about the job. During training, I managed to sign up on several online work platforms such as; Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer. I however had trouble getting my Upwork account approved.
After the five days residential training, I was attached to a mentor for one month mentorship. The mentor created a Whatsapp group for the group of mentees; and therein we would share the challenges and successes of online work. I was lucky to get help on how to resolve the Upwork hitch, and I successfully got my Upwork account approved. It was then time to apply the skills and knowledge gained during training on the online work platform.
At the start, it was discouraging to apply for jobs on Upwork and get none; but my supportive mentor kept on encouraging me to keep on trying. I therefore made a commitment to place two proposals every day; and to my surprise, I received a contract sent for my acceptance from one of the clients. I was not interviewed for the job as my proposal and profile spelt out my skills for the job! I have so far won proposals on Transcription, Curating products on retail sites and Designing templates for PowerPoint on Upwork. This has to date earned me over 300,000 ksh ($3,000). My most recent earnings for October 2017 appears in the screenshot below;
As a youth, it makes me happy to know that online work is real, and whenever I earn, I can withdraw my earnings directly from the online work platform (Upwork) to my phone at ease. I use the earnings made from online work to pay for my monthly bills and my agency fees; as well as invest and save.
However, just like any other job, I experience challenges with online work. Like everyone else, I only have 24 hours in a day and I’m only paid for the hours I work. I want to increase my earnings but I don’t have time. Some days I can work 10-12 hours and it’s exhausting. Online work platforms provide a ready market for freelancers with the skills, and the demand is high. Sometimes, I get an overflow of work and I cannot take up all the jobs since time is limited.
As a result of time limitation and with surplus jobs, I created an online work agency and I am in the process of recruiting a skilled team. This will enable me to absorb more jobs and outsource to my team which will further earn me additional income through affiliate commissions. Moreover, I am exploring online courses that can boost my online work skills. For example, immediately I left Ajira, I downloaded a free app on my laptop that helps me to improve on my touch typing skills, enabling me to work with ease on any job that requires typing a lot of text like transcription. In addition, I am studying how to conduct ‘Data Analytics for websites’ through video courses downloaded from YouTube.
Further, I would like to encourage youth in Kenya that online work is the best and easiest way to start earning money. If you have access to a laptop/computer and internet then you’re good to go. Once you go through the Ajira training do not be afraid of learning new skills. Go on YouTube and learn as much as you can on the field you want to work in. A lot of these skills can be learnt online. You have to invest in acquiring the skills before the jobs start flowing so build your skills as you send those proposals because with online work, only your skills will speak for you. It is also important to focus on a specific field of skills rather than trying to offer every service available.
The training and mentorship was an eye opener; and succeeding at getting my first online job was the beginning of a new career, I decided to concentrate on online work full time.’ Concludes Lila.