NAIROBI, Kenya — An inspiring story surfaced about a 16-year-old in Kenya, David Nderitu, who dug himself out of the dark hole of poverty by creating and selling recycled jewelry from old technological devices, specifically computer boards and cell phones, or what is known as e-waste.
Nderitu lived on the streets but was taken in by a youth empowerment center, where lecturers came to speak about innovation and creativity. Professors came from University of Pennsylvania in the United States, and University of Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya. He credits his remarkable idea and success to these speakers that inspired him.
After being encouraged, he started attending school and even attained a welding certification. He does not plan on stopping there and wants to finish schooling and eventually earn a degree in engineering.
Nderitu understands the different elements to e-waste and has learned how to weld them together with hooks and clasps to create masterful adornments. Beyond that, however, these recycled computer pieces are found in landfills. Since Nderitu is alleviating the ground from toxic waste, he has not only created a profitable project, but a sustainable and eco-friendly one as well.
Nderitu said that the e-waste was “poisoning the soil” in Kenya. An entrepreneur and an environmentalist, Nderitu also understands the importance of healthy soil for crop yields. He cleans the grounds of harmful technological pieces and literally turns trash into treasure.
“It makes every ecological sense as well as economic sense to recycle waste materials instead of disposing them to cause hazardous effects to the soil,” he stated.
It is impressive, to say the least, that Nderitu was stirred by professors who spoke about change and entrepreneurship and learned a skill that not only changed his life but also will benefit the land he grew up on, and thus the people surrounding him.
These are the types of ideas that impact the world and can hopefully inspire others to use their creativity to make a difference. Cliché, maybe, but Nderitu is able to produce 60 pieces of jewelry in two weeks. He sells them both locally and even more frequently abroad to Pennsylvania State University, who buys Nderitu’s jewelry in bulk.
People are rocking microchip earrings, and the unconventional style seems to be catching on quick. His first sale was $23, which is a promising start for a young teenager. He makes more than double on his products when exporting them to America. While running his own business, he still manages to make time for his studies and schooling.
Nderitu takes it a step further, and is now one of those speakers that inspired him. He talks to children that were just like him, suffering in poverty, and motivates them to earn their potential in life.
“There is always a way out in every situation no matter what… I chose to venture into producing e-waste jewelry after discovering my potential while in my new home.” His optimism is refreshing after many of the heartbreaking stories that come from young people in poverty, and will hopefully spark ideas in others.
Nderitu does not plan on stopping, as he stated “I will keep hitting the rock until it breaks,” and why should he? He is not alone, as there is another boy in Kenya, Jack Nyawanga, who is creating jewelry out of cow bones. This also helps clean the environment, and is quite profitable. His jewelry line, called “Victorious Bones,” is gaining popularity and has employed over 40 people that were once living in slums.
It seems the global community could learn a thing or two from Kenya, and hopefully these stories can inspire other sustainable projects that have the power to alleviate poverty.
– Danielle Warren