In Thika, Kenya — about an hour outside of Nairobi — there’s a room full of children eagerly perched in front of computers. It’s Friday afternoon, and The Karibu Coding Club is in session. 

They are sitting inside the new tech centre at The Karibu Centre, a community program that provides pre-school and after-school programs, as well as job-readiness training for underprivileged families in Kenya. It’s estimated that 42% of Kenya’s population is under the age of 15, and many aren’t enrolled in school. The Karibu Centre is working to close this education gap, in part through immersive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs. 

Every Friday, kids ages 8 to 15 come from local schools every week to participate in Coding Club. And their teacher, 25-year-old Alimali Stephen, is a Trailblazer who’s educating the next generation of Trailblazers. We had a chance to speak with him and learn more about his story.


Can you tell us how you came to be here at The Karibu Centre, teaching kids to code?

When I was young, I loved to solve problems and be creative and innovative. So I decided technology was what I wanted to pursue. I began working at The Karibu Centre almost two years ago. At the time, I was also starting to study information technology at the Jodan College of Technology. 

I had heard about The Karibu Centre from a friend and just walked in one day and asked for a job. I must have been convincing because they gave me an internship! I began as a tech intern, working with youth in the community teaching STEM education and coding. 


How has your role at The Karibu Centre changed over the past two years?

Today, my role is also to serve as the Salesforce Admin for the organisation. We have about 25 people working here, spread between various departments, so I use the Salesforce platform in a few different ways.

The first way we use the platform is to track our farm harvest. We operate a farm, where local mothers harvest aloe vera plants to help The Karibu Centre be self sufficient. 

The second way we use the Salesforce platform is for community surveys. Part of our work involves social workers making home visits, and the platform allows them to track all of that.

And of course, we use the platform to keep tabs on student enrollment. So, we’ve built customised apps for all three of these areas — farm harvest, community surveys, and student tracking. Customising these apps with Salesforce has given me the confidence to realise I can also make my own apps, and am currently making an app to help local Kenyans order simple services online such as house cleaners and handymen.


How did you get started using Salesforce?

I’ve been a Salesforce Admin only for the last 12 months, and I was introduced to Salesforce through some of the Salesforce employees that came to Kenya as volunteers

Everyday as an Admin I get to work hands-on with the things I am studying in school — I’m taking night-classes for my IT degree. But Trailhead has been the most important piece that helped me learn Salesforce. I’ve been able to learn so many different parts of the app — basics like data security, analytics, and data modeling to name a few. Right now I have 83 badges and excited to get to 100 badges and become a Trailhead Ranger — hopefully in the next two weeks.

There have been several volunteers in the Salesforce community that have greatly impacted me in a personal way. They’ve spent many hours answering questions for me over the phone and over email. They have really taught me so much. If not for this community of people I would never have gotten to the place I am right now.


How do your students usually react to the Coding Club?

The kids get very excited about the program, because they get their hands on a computer and get to code. They’re learning and having fun at the same time. They’re still in primary school but some have already set their mind to pursue technology as a goal in life.



What advice would you give to other Trailblazers? 

The best advice I can give is just try it. I started using Salesforce only 12 months ago; at first it was frightening, but when I started to learn more, and started using Trailhead, it began to get easier. Trailhead has a great community of people that can answer questions when you get stuck. I’ve learned so much. If I can do that in just 12 months, maybe I can inspire others to be Trailblazer too.


This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting the many voices and stories that make up Salesforce’s diverse community of Trailblazers.