Influencing change, one policy at a time

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 00:00 |
Mbuki Mburu. Photo/PD/JASMINE ATIENO

Jasmine Atieno @sparkleMine

The thing about social media is that there is always someone following and watching.

This, as Banice Mbuki Mburu shares is how she became 2020 laureate of Africa top 35 under 35 Young Change Makers in Africa, Advocacy and Community Action category. 

This was an award given for helping set up Youth Serving Organisations Consortium.

The consortium was formed after the successful lobbying and advocacy of the #NYCTuitakayo campaign on the National Youth Council Amendment Bill.

With an aim to consolidate and harmonise the youth voice, more than 50 youth serving organisations, youth groups and youth focused organisations came together. 

Banice Mbuki Mburu.

“A friend from Accra, Ghana shared the opportunity. He had been following my work for about two years and thought that I deserved the award.

I submitted my application and it was truly an honour to get this award,” she shares about her win. 

Mbuki was born, brought up and schooled in Bahati Constituency, Nakuru county. She came to Nairobi at the age of 17 when she joined United States International University-Africa in 2011.

Here, she pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations, a concentration in development studies and a minor in management.

In January 2012, she enrolled for a work study programme at USIU-Africa and was posted in the hospitality department. She worked there till April 2014.

Eye opener

“I had a great supervisor who supported my business ventures by facilitating storage for business products in school during key events such as cultural week and Mr And Miss USIU, among many other events.

In September 2013, I ventured into product marketing until January 2014 where I joined my first internship at United Religion Initiative (URI) and graduated from USIU-Africa on August 23, 2014,” she says.  

In March 2015, Mbuki joined Society for International Development (SID) on an internship programme that exposed her to the world of policy, governance, social accountability and democracy.

This exposure was an eye opener of the ills in the country and a clearer realisation of the sovereignty of the people as stipulated in the 2010 Constitution.

It is during the internship that together with like-minded passionate people, they co-founded a youth led organisation, ‘Siasa Place’ where she was in charge of communications and partnerships. 

When her internship ended on August 31, 2015 and was yet to secure a job, she ventured into a watermelon farming in Solai, Nakuru, with Sh24,000 savings.

While still on water melon farming, she was called back to support in one of the biggest campaigns in Kenya; the ‘Shule Yangu Campaign’, which sought to secure public schools from land grabbing.

Her work involved conducting research on the status of public schools in Kenya, to use evidence-based data to inform development and review of policies. She also co-chaired a multi stakeholder initiative between the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, National Land Commission and ‘Shule Yangu’ partners that fast-tracked titling of schools and school protection.

In August 2017, she joined the Norwegian Agency for Exchange Corporation and was posted in a youth led organisation, Youth Lab South Africa untill February 2018.

“While on this exchange programme, I developed a private sector and community partnership model that guided targeted skills development that would be useful to the private sector and would in turn create jobs for the community.

I also got an opportunity to participate in the finalisation of the Model African Union Toolkit with 15 youth leaders across Africa,” Mbuki reveals.  

Hands full

As a public policy and youth development advocate, her work involves managing youth programmes mainly on youth employment and access to economic opportunities towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 8, on decent work and economic growth. 

“The programme has mainly involved reviewing existing policies, developing policies and monitoring and evaluating the implementation of policies.

took place in the review of the National Youth Policy of 2007 and the development of the Kenya Youth Development Policy of 2019 to ensure they capture the aspirations of young people in totality with a special focus on their economic implications.

I participated in the development of Art and Culture Policy and the draft Art and Culture Bill.

On monitoring and evaluation implementation of policies and legislation, I participated in filing a petition at the Employment and Labour Relations Court to nullify the un-procedural appointment of the chairperson of the National Employment Authority,” shares the 26-year-old. 

Due to the extensive work done on SDG 8, Mbuki was nominated by Action Aid to speak at the high-level political forum in July 2019 to give youth perspective on review of SDG 8 at the United Nations headquarters. 

She is the current National and County Coordinator of the ‘Sauti Sasa Campaign’, Y-Act, and Amref Kenya.

“This award is a challenge that people are watching, and that there are high expectations by the communities we serve.

Every action and decision we make in our different roles affects many people. Therefore, they must be made consciously and soberly to inspire positive growth in the society,” she says.

 “The award is a call to me, to mentor other youth policy advocates and champions to take over the baton, and to create more spaces for young people to meaningfully engage and participate in decision making.

The struggles we face today should be stepping stones to better opportunities for future leadership.

We need more young people making critical decisions on economic policies, trade and investments and taking over political spaces,” she says in ending.

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