Hatua Likoni: Mentoring and Career Guidance

Hatua Likoni is a community NGO working to promote education and employment among youth in Likoni, Kenya. Through scholarships, mentoring, and career guidance Hatua helps top students gain the skills, credentials, and networks required to become agents for economic development, good governance, and educational advancement in Likoni.

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Cut off from the rest of Mombasa by the port entrance, Likoni can only be accessed by ferry. This lack of exposure hinders development in the region, rendering Linkoni one of poorest areas in Kenya. In addition to geographic isolation, residents are challenged by overcrowded classrooms, high unemployment, and insufficient infrastructure.
Founded in 2007, Hatua Likoni strives to empower youth to overcome these challenges through education. The Hatua Scholarship Fund increases the number of Likoni students able to attend and complete secondary school by providing scholarships to dedicated students whose families are unable to afford school fees. As of May 2014, 190 children were receiving scholarships (72% in secondary school and 28% in higher education). Scholarships are based on academic merit and financial need. The amount of each scholarship is determined by the cost of each school and the amount each family is able to contribute. At the primary and secondary school level, Hatua typically covers the cost of school fees, boarding, uniforms, and books, while families pay for transport. At university level, Hatua supports students with tuition and assistance in applying for educational loans.
Hatua utilizes a robust selection process to award scholarships, working closely with teachers to identify the most academically able students and importantly those most at risk of dropping out. A points-based system is used to review applications anonymously. Academic merit is determined by school results, essays, teacher recommendations, and standardized exam results. Home visits are then conducted to identify those most in need of financial support. Recruitment is growing, and Hatua eventually seeks to recruit 50 new students per year.
Recognizing that financial support and mentoring go hand-in-hand in creating responsible citizens, Hatua introduced a Mentoring and Career Guidance program for all sponsored students. The mentoring program comprises 5 core components:
  1. Life skills
  2. Career guidance
  3. Entrepreneurship
  4. Civics
  5. Community engagement

The program aims to:

  • Help students make smart decisions in their personal lives
  • Coach students in developing academic and professional goals
  • Provide opportunities for academic, personal, and professional growth
  • Provide opportunities for community service
  • Recruit and train professionals to serve as mentors
  • Help college students gain professional opportunities and build networks relevant to their professional interests
At the secondary school level, day school students attend mentoring sessions each week and all students attend daily mentoring sessions during the holidays. Sessions are delivered on site at the Hatua library by trained Hatua facilitators. On occasion external speakers are also invited to share their expertise with students.
In 2014, Hatua began piloting a university mentoring program, through which students are paired with professionals from the fields they wish to pursue. Mentors help their mentees develop the skills, experience and networks needed to launch their own careers.

Hatua’s scholarship and mentoring programs help to ensure that Likoni’s talented youth gain the qualifications, skills and networks required to reach their full potential and enter the workforce as professionals, leaders, and responsible citizens.

(Photo Credit: Todd Shapera)

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