19-year Valentine Nekesa, a part-time designer and model, was yesterday announced the winner of the BLAZE BYOB TV show at the Grand Finale held at Film Studios.
The last boss standing walks away with a grand prize of Sh 5 million that includes Sh 3 million in capital, and Sh 2 million in the form of mentorship, financial advice and business support.
“I am elated for this endorsement of my growth during the time I spent on the show. I have learned how to bring out my leadership skills, and these have seen me make it to the finals. BLAZE BYOB has been an eye-opener for the Kenyan youth, and the country in general; I thank my fellow contestants for coming out and demonstrating that the country’s youth have what it takes to lead,” said Nekesa.
The show came to an end after eight weeks of intensive, real-life challenges where 12 contestants battled it out for the top prize. Three contestants including Safe Joe, David Kimani and Valentine Nekesa qualified for the finals and were last evening tasked with pitching their business ideas to the judges. Safe Joe made a presentation on growing an authentic Kenyan music label while David presented his vision of an adult literacy program.
“I would like to congratulate Valentine on her win; the change in her has been inspiring to me, and I am sure, to Kenyan youth countrywide. It goes to show that age should not serve as an impediment to whatever you aspire to be. We have witnessed the 12 contestants grow and the experience they have attained will not go down the drain. The BLAZE team will step in if need be to offer guidance and support in terms of mentorship,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director -Consumer Business, Safaricom.
Valentine grew up in Kakamega after her mother passed away, which saw her move in with her aunt and her family of 13. She is a student at Mount Kenya University. With the money, she plans to buy sewing machines, rent a shop, buy quality fabric and hire employees who will be particularly talented and share her passion for fashion.
The first runners up, Safe Joe Mugweru walked away with Sh 1,000,000 while David Kimani won Sh. 700,000 to plough into his business. Each of the remaining contestants also walks away with a cash award that will go towards helping them achieve their dreams.
Based on a reality TV – show concept, BLAZE BYOB was designed to be relatable to the Kenyan audience. The show is in line with the youth platform’s aim to empower young people and set them on a path to be entrepreneurs by imparting them with the requisite skills and networks to enable them to earn from their passion and talent.
The 12 entrepreneurs, all under the age of 26, won their spots on the show following rigorous interview processes which were conducted across six regions during the BLAZE entrepreneurship summits held between June and October 2016.
The selection was based on the scalability of each business idea, as well as contestants’ personality and televisual appeal.
During the show, the participants were assigned different challenges that incorporated local unconventional businesses and brands with the judges; Caroline Mutoko, King Kaka and Trushar Khetia taking them through the paces. Waceke Nduati, Founder and CEO, Centonomy, joined the panel of judges in evaluating the three finalists.
Since its launch in May 2016, BLAZE has signed up more than 1.5 million subscribers. Over 44,000 youth below the age of 26 attended the mentorship summits in Eldoret, Thika, Nakuru, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Of these, 778 young men and women auditioned for the TV show, going through an intensive five-stage audition process that resulted in the selection of the 12.
BLAZE is a sub-brand of Safaricom and was created to give youth aged 26 years and below products, services and benefits tailored specifically to meet their everyday needs.
A first of its kind platform in Kenya, East and Central Africa, BLAZE was founded on what Kenyan youth say is most important to them: freedom, empowerment and success.