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2/4/1986 12:00:00 AM




2/4/2008 12:00:00 AM




If it hadn’t been for the firm advice of a far-sighted family friend, Eugene would never have gone into computing at all. While at secondary school, it was an optional subject – and the boss of Jayd Computers in Kisumu was so uninterested that he decided not to bother to study it. Luckily for him, finding himself still at home two years after leaving school, Eugene did listen to the advice of his elders and betters who told him in no uncertain terms that learning some basic computer packages would set him up for the future. Computers were fairly new and there were few people working in that field. “If you knew about them you were considered to be special!” he says, admitting that this, rather than any techno whizz-kid interest, was his primary motivation. After a two-month ICT course at Egerton University paid for by a family friend, followed by a couple of years as an untrained teacher in a primary school, Eugene decided to set up on his own. In 2007, after being able to borrow enough money to afford a computer and a printer, he set up shop in Rakwaro. Softly spoken, his manner is slow and considered. “There were many challenges!” he remembers. “The biggest was the cost of paying for a technician to travel from Kisumu [about 20 miles away] to fix things when they went wrong. In the end I realised it would be better if I could get these skills myself.” It was at this point that he registered with TMT, after advice from his mum, one of the village volunteers. “She talked to the Mango Tree directors, saying I’d given a lot of time to others when I’d been teaching, and that I should now be in college.” So, thanks to a second outside intervention, Eugene’s fledging career in ICT took another leap forward. He duly signed up for a three-year diploma in computer science at Kisumu Polytechnic, with TMT paying the tuition and exam fees. “It was a lot to learn but I had the basic background,” he says. “The course covered computer networks, software and hardware, maintenance and programming.” He supported himself by typing and printing students’ projects with the equipment he’d brought with him from his shop. After receiving his diploma he started his business afresh, except that this time he was selling and maintaining the equipment himself. Progress was good and in 2014 he took on another member of staff. His clients are mainly schools and NGOs, which ask him for advice on what kind of systems to install, and he also maintains their equipment. “I can be in the office working on a tender for a contract when the phone will ring and it will be a client saying, help, the system’s down, and I’ll go out to them right away.” It’s the flexibility and autonomy of being his own boss that he enjoys the most. “When you’re employed you have to stick to the 9-5,” he chuckles. “Now I can also make time to spend with the wider TMT family.” Eugene is chairman of the welfare committee of The Mango Tree Alumni group and is stepping up preparations for the big 10th Anniversary Celebrations. “TMT is unique in Kenya,” he says. “It’s the only organisation of its kind where it’s not just the fee that’s paid for you, but where your spiritual and social life is also built and cared for.” And what of the future for this careful and considered businessman? “I’d like to get a degree so that I can grow the business and employ a good number of people. I like serving the people so if I expand I can accommodate more. The course lasts for three or four years, though, so it’s a dream at the moment but I’d maybe start in 2018 and save up funds in the meantime.” From being the boy who wasn’t interested in computers at school, Eugene is now an expert. “Through paying my college fee TMT has given me the ability to stand on my own two feet,” he says. “Now I’m making an investment in my life and have given hope to many in my community. TMT has given me wings to fly.”

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