In Thika, Kenya, a 25-year-old Trailblazer is educating the next generation of coders at the Karibu Coding Club. Based at the new tech center at The Karibu Centre, Alimali Stephen leads a community program that is working to close the education gap by providing pre- and after-school programs, as well as job-readiness training for underprivileged families in Kenya. This is his story.
When I was young, I loved to solve problems and be creative and innovative. I decided technology was what I wanted to pursue and began my studies in information technology at the Jodan College of Technology.
I heard about The Karibu Centre from a friend. I was inspired by their approach with projects focused on improving the lives of the entire community, in part through immersive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs for kids. So, one day I just walked in and asked for a job. I must have been convincing because they gave me an internship!
Almost two years ago, I began as a tech intern, working with youth in the community teaching STEAM education and coding. Today, I also serve as the Salesforce Admin for the organization. We have about 25 people working here and spread between various departments, so I use the Salesforce platform in a few different ways.
Firstly, we track our farm harvest. We operate a farm, where local mothers harvest aloe vera plants for their Organic Savanna products, which helps The Karibu Centre be self-sufficient. Secondly, we manage community surveys. Part of our work involves social workers making home visits, and Salesforce allows them to track all the necessary information. And, of course, we use the platform to keep tabs on student enrollment.
We built customized apps for all three of these areas — farm harvest, community surveys, and student tracking. Customizing these apps with Salesforce gave me the confidence to make my own apps. I'm currently developing an app to help local Kenyans order simple services online, such as house cleaners and handymen.
I learned about the platform from some of the Salesforce employees that came to Kenya as volunteers. These people, along with the Salesforce community, have greatly impacted me in a personal way. Since we met, they’ve spent many hours answering questions for me over the phone and email. They have taught me so much. If it were not for people like Tammer Salem, Oleg Bascurov, Rory O’Mahony, and Neil Armstrong, I would never have gotten to the place I am right now.
My love for all things IT has only gotten stronger. I’m currently taking night classes to earn my IT degree. Each day is such a joy — as an Admin I get to work hands-on with the things I am studying in school. Working in this way has taught me a lot about technology that I didn’t understand before.
Trailhead has been the most important piece that helped me learn Salesforce. I’ve learned so many different skills, such as data security, analytics, and data modeling, to name a few. Right now, I have 83 badges and am excited to reach 100 badges and become a Trailhead Ranger very soon!
The kids I teach get very excited about the Coding Club. It gives them the opportunity to get their hands on a computer and practice coding. They’re learning and having fun at the same time. They may still be in primary school but some have already set their mind to pursue technology as a career goal.
To me, a Trailblazer is a person creating their own path, making their own way. And it’s exciting to be a Trailblazer. I love working with Salesforce volunteers to customize nearly every app that we use with Salesforce. The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to blaze their own trail — just try it!
I started using Salesforce only 12 months ago. At first, it was a little overwhelming, but as I started to learn more — and started using Trailhead — it got easier. There is also the great Trailblazer Community, full of people who answer questions when you get stuck. I’ve learned so much. If I can achieve all that I have in just 12 months, and if I can share this knowledge with my students, perhaps I can inspire others to be Trailblazers too!
This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers and is based on an original piece published on The Trailblazer.