Unemployment in Kenya is a growing challenge especially among the youth. This has been caused by several issues including; Lack of marketable skills sought by industry. This is due to mismatch of acquired skills and industry expectation as well as lack of opportunities and resources for the youth to acquire specialized training. There are also very limited available employment opportunities against a fast-growing pool of employment seekers, with unfavorable geographical distribution of jobs. Other issues are gender and cultural biases. Within the Coastal and northern parts of Kenya, these issues have led to youth radicalization, exposure to extreme violence and drug & substance abuse.
I.O.Me005 is a community based innovation and prototyping space with an array of Digital Fabrication tools to facilitate rapid prototyping and small scale manufacturing of innovative ideas/products. It is an initiative of the Kenya Red Cross Society located in Lamu, Kenya and has been in operation since October 2020. Initial funding and support was provided by the Qatar Red Crescent Society. This collaborative space inspires and enables researchers, innovators, technology enthusiasts and entrepreneurs to create and quickly test new concepts, products and businesses by giving them more options through access to advanced technology, materials and production methodologies through shared knowledge and peer learning.
The lab is also located next to the Lamu Rehabilitation Center – another initiative by the Kenya Red Cross Society, to offer support in the rehabilitation process of drug addicts. During their rehabilitation period, clients spend time at the IOMe lab to build new technical skills and practice those that they may already have. This keeps them productively engaged and ensures that at the end of their rehabilitation program they can be easily integrated back to the society.