Jobs for High-Potential Youth in Urban Slums

$7,275 $2,725
Raised Remaining
Smart Car Mobile Sales Experiment
Smart Car Mobile Sales Experiment

A Story of Impact:

 In early June, 18 year-old Shikoli joined us as a sales agent. His pregnant wife was in the hospital facing complications. Unable to pay the hospital bills, was anxious. He knew he had to sell - a lot. During his first week, his sales were below average. Frustrated, he worked harder. After his second week, began setting up his products as early as 5 AM in front of his house to capture the attention of his neighbors who were beginning the walk to work. He would then set up the same products every night at around 7 PM when the same people would return from work, with more time. It worked! Within two weeks of working with us, he was telling inspirational stories during the 8 AM sales meeting. He became the #1 sales agent, and his wife had a healthy baby after all. 

Operations Update:
Sales. Sales in May and June generated almost $7,000 USD in revenue through the sale of 501 products like solar lamps and fuel-efficient cookstoves. 

Sales Manager. After a rigorous and competitive process, during which we sought the advice of our sales agents, we hired a Sales Manager. Our new teammate, Hosea Irungu, will now lead our sales force. Hosea was once a high school physics teacher, and then gained more than 15 years experience leading sales teams throughout the East Africa region while working with tire, insurance and beverage companies. 

Interns. LivelyHoods was chosen by The University of Pacific’s Global Ambassador Fellows Programs which sends bright MBA candidates to promising social enterprises throughout the world. We’re thrilled to have Katrina Ordanza join us this summer. 

Market Research. Our sales agents conducted paid market research for a Norwegian solar company, BR!GHT. They arranged focus groups during which 20 community members to provide feedback on solar lamp products. 

Product Evaluation Criteria Model. With 47 products in our product line, and new offers from suppliers all the time, this model is a standardized way to select new products based on criteria important to us. We can now score the compatibility of any product based on 13 characteristics most important to us, which range from sales agents input to customer feedback, unit price, gross profit margin, social impact, among others. 

Learn Start-up Experiment: The “Smart Car”:
Eric Ries, the founder of the so-called “learn start-up movement,” states that the most valuable thing a start-up can do is LEARN. Last month, we launched a “Smart Car” experiment. We wanted to give our sales agents access to different locations through branded, promotional transportation - similar to a food truck model. We rented a public 14-seater van, decorated it with two banners and traveled to 5 different locations over two days. As hypothesized, agents received more orders and closed more sales than any other type of marketing we’ve invested in. We’re continuing to test other iterations of this experiment. Let us know if you have ideas by emailing me, Maria Springer, at!


Prepping the Smart Car
Prepping the Smart Car
Shikoli Tells the Story of His Success
Shikoli Tells the Story of His Success
Eddah & Imelda Smiling at Group Marketing Event
Eddah & Imelda Smiling at Group Marketing Event
Evelyn Markets a New D.Light Solar Lamp Product
Evelyn Markets a New D.Light Solar Lamp Product

Dear Lively GlobalGivers,

We’d like to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Since our launch last year, 27 youth have sold over solar lamps and fuel-efficient cook stoves to over 1,400 families in Nairobi slum communities. Through their creativity and resilience, our youth have generated over $15,000 in sales revenue, which has been reinvested in expanding our impact. This month, we’re hiring 10 more youth. Next month, we’ll hire more. Thank you for helping us give youth rich with potential an opportunity – a job with dignity.

Mercy, one of our youths who just moved on to pursue her education, left this unsolicited (and unedited) post on our Facebook page about her work with our sales force, iSmart Kenya:

“ismart kenya is the best place any youth can enjoy being.when i joined livelyhoods i didn't knew I'll reach this far.  I specifically recognized tania and maria springer for coming up with this idea.  I also appreciate anyone who contributed in raising this project.personally I benefited mentally,socially being part of ismart. I never regret at one point”

Additionally, here are some of our other achievements:

-With the help of former Procter & Gamble employee, we’re overhauling our training and sales curriculum.

- Tania Laden, our Director of Operations, and iSmart Kenya was given an award from Paradigm Project for being an excellent distributor of fuel-efficient cook stoves.

-Maria Springer, our Executive Director, was selected as a Cordes Fellow, which gives promising social entrepreneurs a scholarship to attend the Opportunity Collaboration in Mexico

-We were selected as one of 300 semifinalists from a pool of 3,508 for Echoing Green, an organization that invests $90,000 in bold social entrepreneurs and organizations.




iSmart Receives Sales Award from Paradigm Project
iSmart Receives Sales Award from Paradigm Project


About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.

donate now:

Retired Project

This project is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?
Find another project in Kenya or in Economic Development that needs your help.



Venice, California, United States

Project Leader

Maria Springer

Executive Director
Venice, CA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Jobs for High-Potential Youth in Urban Slums