From Dream to Design: The Journey of Kenya’s Youth in Building an Entrepreneurial Web Resource

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7 months ago
The development of the Youth Entrepreneurship Resource Hub (YERH) website in Kenya is a prime example of the effective use of student-led hackathons as a participatory tool. This approach involved engaging nine student teams from partnering universities and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) cohorts, out of which five were shortlisted. The unique aspect here was the collaboration between the students and a professional web service designer, which ensured that the winning design was not only innovative but also technically feasible and aligned with the project’s objectives. The implementation of the winning design by the students, under the guidance of a web developer, is a testament to the educational and practical benefits of this approach. Not only did the students gain real-world experience in web development, but they also had the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to a project with significant social impact. The YERH website, now live at https://yerh-kenya.com/, is a resource for all Kenyan youth, aiming to build their capacity and assist in the successful management and running of their enterprises. The success of the YERH website illustrates how student-led hackathons can be more than just educational exercises; they can result in tangible, impactful projects. By providing a platform for young minds to apply their skills and creativity, such hackathons foster innovation and practical problem-solving, essential in today’s digital world. This case study underscores the potential of hackathons as a participatory tool in website development, especially in projects aimed at social development and youth empowerment. Integrating the Appreciative Inquiry (AI) tool into the student-led hackathon for the development of the YERH website added a significant depth to the process. AI’s strengths-based approach complemented the hackathon’s innovative environment, guiding students to focus not on problems, but on potential and existing successes. The AI process in the hackathon unfolded through its four phases: Discovery, Dream, Design, and Destiny.
In the Discovery phase, participants explored successful examples of entrepreneurship resources, identifying what works well. This positive reflection helped in fostering an environment of encouragement and aspiration. In the Dream phase, students envisioned their ideal resource hub, imagining how the best elements they identified could be integrated and enhanced. This phase was crucial for sparking creative and ambitious ideas among the participants. The Design phase translated these ideas into actionable plans. Here, the collaboration with the web service designer was instrumental. The designer’s expertise in web development guided the students to mold their ambitious dreams into feasible, impactful designs. Finally, the Destiny phase involved the actual creation and implementation of the winning website design, ensuring that the vision became a reality. This phase not only led to the successful completion of the YERH website but also instilled a sense of accomplishment and ownership among the students. The use of appreciative inquiry in the hackathon thus played a pivotal role in harnessing the collective creativity, skills, and aspirations of the participants, leading to the development of a resource hub that is not only functional and user-friendly but also inspired by the shared vision and strengths of Kenyan youth. This approach serves as a powerful model for similar projects, showcasing how participatory tools like student-led hackathons and appreciative inquiry can be synergistically used to drive innovation and meaningful change.

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Youth Entrepreneurship Resource Hub