Caleb Ndaka had never used a computer before he went to university in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, in his 20s. Growing up in a Kenyan village, computers had only shown up in movies or the stories neighbors told after a visit to a big city.
Immediately, Caleb felt the technology gap. On his first day, he walked into class to find his desk mate disassembling a computer. Meanwhile, he wondered, “Where do I even switch it on?”
Caleb had graduated high school in Machakos, a town an hour’s drive from Nairobi in rural Kenya, and had lived with his parents for four years before attending higher education. The opportunity changed his life in many ways. “Wow. Village no more,” he said. “I’m coming to a new life.” He went on to fall in love with Nairobi, which he described as a city pulsating with life. “I love the fact that people are going out and getting stuff done. I love the energy. I love the people. I love the food,” he said.
And while he grew to love technology during his time at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Caleb’s path became clearer when he was chosen to attend #Insiders4Good, a six-month fellowship offered to entrepreneurs in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda as part of the Windows Insider Program. Caleb and the #Insiders4Good East Africa Fellows used the opportunity to address urgent social and economic challenges, including access to education.
Caleb’s passion for education, grounded in his own education and his time with #Insiders4Good, guided him to co-found Kids Comp Camp, a mobile training organization, to teach young people everything from basic typing to coding. Today, Kids Comp Camp helps African children in rural and low-income settings develop the technical skillsets that will help them compete in Africa’s emerging digital economy. They’ve partnered with schools, community centers, and churches to provide the after-school tech-based training programs.
The dramatic difference between access to technology in rural areas and cities is something Caleb understands firsthand, and he believes their mission is vital to helping prepare kids like he once was for the future. In one location, Kids Comp Camp surveyed 60 kids and found that 57 of them had never used a computer. “People here in Nairobi think a computer or a smartphone are everyday things,” he said, “And yet 30 kilometers away, it’s a whole other world.”
He believes their mission has the potential to empower these under-served communities. “We are giving access where it was nonexistent. We are doing this through empowering community trainers to take the lead in transforming their communities through knowledge and skills,” he said. “We are offering a 360-transformation solution, from the school-going children, to adults around them, with a special focus on parents, teachers, and out-of-school youth. No one should be left behind by this digital transformation bus.”
The Windows Insider Program has been a key part of supporting Caleb and his organization’s mission with resources, advice, and ongoing support. “The Windows Insiders Program has been instrumental for me to know my community better, for me to understand my community better, and for me to inspire my community better, he said. “It is humbling to connect and network and collaborate with such an amazing and awesome community with all sorts of gifts and talents. Truly present help in the time of need.”
Caleb is now focused on tech-based training to close the digital divide. “When I had the opportunity to use computers, I felt like my life had changed,” he said. Caleb is still developing his skills in computer science and loves witnessing the transformation of children and their rural communities as they engage with Kids Comp Camp. “Every one of these kids is meant for something. Every one of them has an ability, a potential that they can live up to,” he said. “I’m only here as a catalyst.”