I remember writing about Ashish Thakkar and being thoroughly amazed by the young man who started a business at 15; “What was I doing at 15?” I inquired of myself.
Today, I present another record breaker; at 14, Laetitia Mukungu started a rabbit-rearing business in 2009 to provide educational materials and a means of livelihood for the children and women of her village; the My Idea Rabbit Centre.
Now why would a 14 year old be weighing the pros and cons of starting a business, employing women old enough to be her mother[s], and running a microfinance institute all at once when her contemporaries in some countries can’t put a kettle to boil?
The eldest of three sisters, Laetitia’s education had to be put on hold because her mother –a single parent- couldn’t foot the bills. Familiar story right? Reminds me of Best Ayioworth.
Relocating to her village in Bukura, Kenya, Laetitia volunteered to teach at a Primary School –having barely graduated from one herself- and I daresay the obvious lack of educational materials and stationery for her students spurred her to consider the possibilities…what possibilities and opportunities are you considering in the face of your society’s myriad challenges?
Armed with a business plan, a loan of about $500 dollars from the Head Teacher of the Bukura Educational Complex and the support of fifteen mothers from the village, Laetitia founded the Women’s Rabbit Association; and that’s how a young girl killed three birds with one stone: she provided employment for her community women, funded the education of students at Bukura Educational Complex, instituted a micro-lending scheme to encourage economic stability through self-sustenance and earned some money along the way. Did I say three birds?
Laetitia’s entrepreneurial leanings paid dividends and she was able to complete her Secondary education at the Precious Blood Girls School, Riruta. She is presently a student at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa, and her enterprise continues to flourish as she serves as the CEO of Agrinovation, an agriculture student enterprise at the African Leadership Academy [ALA] whose mission is to create an agriculturally sustainable ALA by providing healthy, affordable vegetables and agriculture training on food waste recycling.
In April 2013, Laetitia took yet another giant leap as she founded the Africa Rabbit Centre and…wait for it, a primary school!
The Africa Rabbit Centre is a Co-operative organization establishing rabbit farming for sustainable development in order to empower rural women, orphans, and under-privileged children in rural Western Kenya.
The Sofia Township Primary School was Laetitia’s answer to the burgeoning lack of access to education. In her words,
“In my efforts to provide education to the under-privileged children in my community, I founded this school to empower the poor and the forgotten. This school is located in Sofia slum in Butere. The school is home to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and children affected by extreme poverty, school drop- out and child labour.
Sofia Township Primary School helps slum children in Butere go to school and stay in school in order to prosper in life. We support and educate these children to meet their special needs and bring joy to them and their families.
Complex factors bar children from education in Sofia Slum. These are: Extreme poverty, homelessness, absentee parents, orphans, child labour and dysfunctional families. ARC understands what it takes and helps to bring solutions to these problems through supporting needy children who enrol in school to stay, complete their education and succeed in life.”
An Anzisha prize finalist for 2012, Laetitia has reportedly received over $20, 000 in funding and she seems to keep setting the bar higher and higher with plans to study Biological/Agricultural Engineering. She is a Speaker at various international conferences.
There are thinkers, there are talkers and there are doers; blessed is he who not only thinks and talks, but also does!
Learn. Think. Act. Repeat!
I am a rabbit rearer in Zimbabwe and the story of Laetitia is of great significance and inspiration for us youth.thank you for your selfless dedication in uncovering what Africa possesses .How can we get in touch with Laetitia too?