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Known for its tea exports and for its tourism industry, Kenya is also home to a rapidly growing new source of income – the ‘informal sector’.

Making up more than three quarters of Kenya’s workforce, these 11.8 million workers create their own employment in jobs such as cooking, cleaning and agriculture.

VSO volunteers support new businesses operating in this sector to grow and thrive by developing new ideas and helping them explore different ways of making money.

Making life in Kenya fairer is also another ICS project theme. You could be working on projects helping Kenyan communities and schools become more inclusive to people with disabilities.

Naseem volunteered in Loitokitok, Kenya. See his journey in 360° - scroll using your mouse
A Balloon Ventures volunteer talks to students at Bagara Secondary school in Njoro
© Stephen Nderitu / Balloon Ventures
A Balloon Ventures volunteer talks to students at Bagara Secondary school in Njoro
Balloon has demonstrated the impact of merging diverse perspectives. Even without loans, the transformation to these entrepreneurs’ businesses is remarkable.
Ali Whiting
UK Team Leader, Eldoret, Kenya, 2016
Ali Whiting

Helping people to support themselves and their families

ICS volunteers help create sustainable livelihoods – either through supporting entrepreneurs working in the informal sector to grow, or through giving young people the employability skills they need to find work and support their families and communities.

VSO volunteers work to increase employability and employment creation skills and opportunities for young people and the community, working with youth centres, schools and community groups to help engage young people in taking a lead in their futures.

VSO volunteers went to Kenya this summer to help challenge the stigma facing deaf communities

Working for a fairer word

Since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was signed in 2007, big progress has been made in Kenya, with the government now officially recognising disabled rights.

As a VSO volunteer, you’ll be involved in a range of activities working towards creating equality for people with disabilities – who make up 10% of the Kenyan population.

Volunteers work in community-based organisations, schools and social enterprises, carrying out fundraising and campaigns on disability issues. Previously, volunteers have run sports days and Active Citizenship Days to showcase the athletic and artistic talents of young people with disabilities.

You could be working on the Inclusive Neighbourhood Spaces (INS) project, where you’ll be identifying young people with hearing problems to help share information on deafness within the community. INS has enabled the hearing community to adapt to deaf culture through Kenyan Sign Language classes and through living and working with deaf partners and host families.

Baloon Ventures volunteers Sarah and Janet talk to entrepreneur Benard from Njoro
© Stephen Nderitu / Balloon Ventures
Baloon Ventures volunteers Sarah and Janet talk to entrepreneur Benard from Njoro

Living in Kenya

There are multiple project locations in Kenya, including Siaya, Machakos, Taita Taveta, Loitokitok, Nandi and Makueni. All placements in Kenya see volunteers living with host families, usually with one other volunteer.

As with other placements, volunteers living with host families will be expected to eat like a local. You can expect to be served the hearty staple of ugali (maize meal) or matoke (boiled and mashed green banana) alongside a vegetable side like sukuma wiki or meat stew.

It’s not just what happens on placement that counts. Volunteers have also been involved in inter-school sports days, litter picking and entrepreneurship training for vulnerable groups.

ICS partners working in Kenya:


One second a day. VSO ICS volunteer Penny Cooper-Jones created this film to document her time volunteering with ICS in Kenya

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Funded by the UK Government.

ICS is funded by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which projects the UK as a force for good in the world, including reducing poverty and tackling global challenges.

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