Never too young to be a mentor

Writer MWAURA SAMORA had a tête-à-tête with youthful STEVE MBOGO, who runs a mentorship programme and still finds time for business and philanthropy, about his vision for the young people of this country.

Generation Next: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Steve Mbogo: I was born in Trans Nzoia County and attended Kitale Academy then joined Aquinas High School in Nairobi. I proceeded to the University Of Cairo, Egypt, where I completed an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. I also have a commercial pilot licence obtained in Australia. I run an import-export business with interests in mining.

GN: Tell us about your initiative, Colour My World.

SM: Colour My World started in 2013 after I visited Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) paediatric ward where the sight of small children battling cancer really touched me. Most of them were lonely, poor and could not afford specialised treatment. Colour My World was created to create an avenue through which I could reach out in my humble capacity to alleviate their suffering.

GN: Though noble, how sustainable is the initiative?

SM: Thankfully, I don’t run this charity alone. I have like-minded partners in Kenya and abroad. As a result, even though the project is currently focusing on Kenyatta National Hospital, where we are working with 600 children, we are also planning to roll out in at least 25 counties in the next two years. We have signed a deal with partners in the United Arab Emirates and will be receiving five containers of food every month, starting in June. In case you are wondering, this is not just any food, but the nutritious kind such as canned beans, brown rice and nuts suitable for convalescents.

GN: Is charity a preserve of the wealthy as most people imagine?

SM: That is a wrong assumption. Giving, in my opinion, is not determined by the size of one’s earnings,but rather by the size of one’s heart. There are many wealthy people who are not giving back to society and vice versa. Young people should know that being charitable is not only about giving money; you can also give your effort and talent. We have students who volunteer to teach in the classes at KNH, which is a priceless contribution.

GN: You seem to be living the dream of every youth: a fleet of posh cars, bling, and a house in the leafy suburbs. Why do you think many young people in Kenya find it hard to attain financial independence?

SM: First, our education system places a lot of emphasis is placed on grades; so much so that people will go to any lengths to score an ‘A’. More often than not, however, all the good grade gives you is a ‘good’ job that takes you through life. Usually, wealth and financial independence are not be attained through a salary, but through business profits. I advise young people, therefore, to venture into business more. They should strive to meet the needs of society and the money will come.

GN: Besides business and charity, you are also a politician. What exactly do you do in this turbulent field?

SM: I have been active in politics since my childhood. I was the head boy at Kitale Academy, a captain in high school, and a member of the student council during my university days. I joined national politics after school forming the Vijana Progressive Alliance political party at the age of 21. I am currently the party leader of a vibrant youth party called Party of New Alliance (PONA). We are advocating change, good governance and the welfare of the youth, who are the majority in Kenya.

GN: You also have a mentorship programme for young people. Tell us more.

SM: I try as much as possible to inspire youth to realise their full potential through conducting monthly talks in universities. I also post daily motivational nuggets on my Facebook page, Hon Steve Mbogo, and I am glad that the feedback I receive confirms positive impact.

GN: Your parting shot?

SM: A human being is a product of his thoughts, and whatever he thinks he becomes.