Lucy Ndungu is the Executive Director at Hope for Teenage Mothers based in Nairobi, Kenya
Teenage pregnancy and subsequent motherhood presents a major challenge to a girl child who has no social support from family, friends and the community. Hope for Teenage Mothers (HFTM) seeks to identify and empower the most vulnerable teen mothers in Kenya. We aim to offer these young mothers access to education and economic empowerment through training and skills building. Several of the young girls have conceived as a result of rape or sexual violence and HFTM offers them a chance to rewrite their future free of judgment or condemnation.
Since 2008, HFTM has supported 40 teen mothers every year. To date we have graduated over 250 teen women in areas of vocational training (where they learn tailoring, dressmaking and knitting skills), entrepreneurship training (they are instructed on how to develop a business plan, start a business and save money) and back to school program (they are provided with adult education, formal and non-formal education).
After successful entrepreneurship and vocational training the teen mothers are able to set up small businesses including hairdressing, baking, bead-working, tailoring, knitting and bag weaving. Through the sale of these items, the ladies make a small amount of money that offers a livelihood to them and their children.
HFTM partners with Christian Brothers and other NGO’S and corporate organizations to train teen mothers on life skills for independence. After successful completion of the training, we look for sponsors to donate seed capital and mentors to support startups which allow the teen mothers to earn and cater to school fees, school uniforms and food. These income generating activities are important because they pour economic benefits into the girls’ communities.
HFTM also exports some of the African products to USA and UK through referrals. The profit received is partly shared with the mothers to sustain their livelihood and as capital injection to those operating small businesses. The balance is used to buy more materials for the project to remain sustainable.
Nevertheless, selling these products remains a challenge due to large numbers of suppliers in the local market selling similar items. HFTM needs mentors who can help the girls develop innovative ideas and gain a competitive advantage over other suppliers. Marketing abroad is also difficult because we do not have a wide net-work outside to whom we can sell the products to while shipping costs are high unless we receive a bulk order.
We are specifically seeking partners willing to work with our girls to develop their skills in product design and business development for both local and international markets. We need volunteers to help us market our products abroad and improve our sales to reach a wider number of customers. This will provide us with higher turnover to ensure the project is self-sustainable. We want to rewrite the future of the teenage mothers through self-reliance and economic empowerment.
Let us join hands to empower the teen mothers by giving them a ‘second chance ‘.
Learn more about HFTM here.