In October 2007, HOPE worldwide Kenya (HWWK) obtained a three- year funding from Wal-Mart Foundation to implement the Industrial Centers of HOPE (ICOH) program. The overriding goal of the program is to improve the welfare of factory workers especially in Wal-Mart supplying factories, and also uplift the standard of living for the workers dependants. Together, the partners, Wal-Mart, HOPE worldwide Kenya, and the factories have been contributing to the attainment of 5 out of the 8 global millennium development goals;
- Eradicating extreme poverty
- Promoting gender equality
- Combating HIV/AIDS
- Promoting environmental sustainability
- Global partnership for development.
Measured as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Kenya’s economic growth shrunk to 1.7% in the current financial year, the lowest in five years. The issue of poverty is compounded by HIV/AIDS. The unique nature of the Wal-Mart funded program has enabled the ‘triple-crisis’ of HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment to be addressed at the same time among the target populations.
The program is being implemented under three Strategic Objectives:
1. Improve the capacity of management and staff in factories to implement HIV/AID programs at their workplaces
2. Improve the entrepreneurial and vocational aptitude of communities around the factories targeting mostly workers’ families
3. Equip & educate youths and adults in the communities with HIV prevention and life-skills, improve care and support for children orphaned and/or vulnerable
The program has been implemented in four sites: Nairobi, Mombasa, Kitengela and Thika. HIV/AIDS and wellness programs were initiated in 16 factories (4 in each of the sites). Centers of HOPE facilitate community outreach activities, vocational and entrepreneurial skills training and educational support for children.
The Industrial Centers of HOPE are established where most of the workers live to facilitate their access to services such as:
- Voluntary Counseling & Testing
- Vocational and entrepreneurship skills training
- Community Resource Center
Vocational training offered includes an Entrepreneurial Skills and Peer Education trainings: In Kenya, most of the jobs available are for the more highly educated and affluent community members. Providing entrepreneurial skills to those we train in various vocations will make them more able to start their own enterprises in case they do not get salaried employment.
The vocational trainings that are provided include:
- Computer skills.