Twaweza partner Shujaaz wins an Emmy

Twaweza partner Shujaaz FM has been awarded the prestigious International Digital Emmy Award in Cannes, France on April 1, 2012. Well Told Story’s Shujaaz won in the Children and Young People’s Category, bringing home Kenya’s first Emmy. Twaweza has partnered with Shujaaz since its inception in February 2010, and was among the first to invest in this bold, risky venture. In an email Rob Burnet, director of Well Told Stories, kindly acknowledges Twaweza's role noting that "[the award] is a testimony to your vision, backing us when we were nothing but a concept and some pretty ambitious promises."

Two years later, the initiative is reaching an estimated 5 million young Kenyans each month and stimulating change among the youth across the nation.

Shujaaz produces a monthly comic book and airs a radio show six days a week that centers around 19 year old Boyie. He has graduated from secondary school, but like so many of his peers, he has not received admission at college and is unable to find work. Boyie takes to the airwaves, setting up a pirate FM radio station, and broadcasts to other youth the message that it is up to them to improve their lives.

Shujaaz arose from the urgent need to connect the 24 million Kenyans aged under 25 years with ideas and opportunities that create employment, generate income, protect fragile livelihoods and environments, and help them to engage with governance and authority in constructive, democratic ways and incite discussions, debates and expression of their voice on issues that matter to them.

Five hundred thousand copies of the comic are distributed each month through Kenya's largest circulating newspaper and Safaricom's M-pesa kiosks. Between the comic, radio program (Boyie's show) and Shujaaz’s social media presence, Well Told Story estimates that they reach 5 million youth, 10-30 years old, on a monthly basis.

‘We talk about the real struggles of the slums and the villages - to validate ordinary Kenyan life in the media which is otherwise often full of western imports,’ Rob Burnet wrote on the DFID blog. ‘We don't romanticise and we don't patronise. Instead we have created a multi-media channel that looks and feels like the real world to young people who have never seen people like themselves in the media before.’

Twaweza provides financial, technical and networking support to Well Told Story. We also provide story ideas, credible data, reports we’ve written and other information that can enhance the Shujaaz program. Twaweza and Shujaaz share the same goals: stimulate citizen agency and provide a platform for the exchange of information and different views. Shujaaz is also exploring expanding its work in Tanzania and Uganda.

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