Working alongside our private sector partners, such as Safaricom (East Africa’s leading telecommunications company), the IT Bridge Academy offers young jobseekers with disabilities who have a passion for information technology (IT) the chance to train and get hands-on experience in the sector.
Read the stories of three students who have graduated from the academy and plan to make an impact in the IT industry.
“After graduating from the IT Bridge Academy, I completed an internship at Safaricom and now I’ve received another contract with them. I’m a security operations centre analyst. I work in the security operations centre where we monitor and analyse the network for security. I love my job; I love what I’m doing and I want to move higher in the future.
“Before joining the academy, I tried to look for job opportunities, but I couldn’t get one. I think the main reason is because most organisations are still not willing or ready to offer an inclusive environment at their workplaces.
“The experience I had at the IT Bridge Academy beats the experience that I got from my other studies, from primary school to university. We did a lot of an amazing work at the academy – it was a dream come true. With the other students, we knew each other’s disabilities and could really understand each other. We also had amazing trainers, especially my trainer, Mr Allan. I always refer to him as one of the best trainers.
“When I joined Safaricom, I saw that they are a very inclusive employer. They try as much as possible to ensure that they do everything to offer an inclusive environment for all their employees. In Kenya, we have so many organisations and employers who I believe can offer job opportunities to people with disabilities but they haven’t, because they have some kind of fear. They feel that people with disabilities cannot offer an exemplary service to them. This is a narrative that Safaricom is trying to do away with. But if more employers come on board, we can have a society where everybody feels included.”
“I personally have two rules in life. My first rule is, follow your passion. My second rule is, listen to rule number one. My internship at Safaricom was very important to me because it has helped me perfect my skills. Since I was young, I really wanted to work in a managerial position, but I didn’t know what specifically to do. But I’m amazed by how knowledgeable I’ve become in my area of interest.
“Safaricom is a very good place. There are equal opportunities. People are seen as equal. People with and without disabilities work together; they integrate very well – that came as a surprise for me.
“I’ve saw the internship as a learning opportunity where I get to gain a lot of knowledge, build my network, improve my career and improve in my field of study. I wish that people without disabilities would learn that people with disabilities can do anything, they can do any work.
“I am now working as an associate production manager at a start-up food and drinks producer in Nairobi. Having passed and graduated through the IT Bridge Academy has really shaped me into the person I am today.
“Joining Safaricom as an intern enabled me to grasp leadership and managerial skills, making me comfortable that I will deliver well in the company where I am working.”
“I believe that the IT Bridge Academy opened a gateway for me and shifted my career path. I am now an ICT fellow at Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) where I’m representing people with disabilities and advocating for inclusivity and equality in accessing ICT services.
“My experience at IT Bridge Academy was great, and the course was great. But I also worked on my leadership skills. During my internship at Safaricom, I got the opportunity to be the interns’ representative. I got to stand up and speak for myself. I believe I got the best skills there and they are the ones that are pushing me currently.
“The IT Bridge Academy opened up the opportunity for my job. KICTANET heard about my story in African Arguments, which was facilitated by Sightsavers. They were really interested to understand how inclusivity works, because in the story I was advocating for full inclusivity for people with disabilities. This made them realise that I was right person for the job and someone who can fight for the rights of people with disabilities.
“We, people with disabilities, are saying that there is nothing for us, without us. There are so many things that the internet and IT sector did not consider in terms of people with disabilities, so I want to be an advocate in this area.”
Images © Sightsavers/Joshua Wanyama