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  • Writer's pictureBaker Institute Team

In Their Own Words: Boniface Kyalo '22

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

As a high school student in Kenya, Boniface Kyalo '22 saw how the tensions between neighboring communities - caused by cattle raiding - was impacting the lives off his fellow students. Following the advice of a mentor, he was determined to come up with a solution.

His idea - Strengthening Intercommunity Relationships Among Pastoral Communities of Northern Kenya Through an Integrated Peace and Education Initiative - was nominated by Lehigh University for the Davis Projects for Peace." He won and with his $10,000 award, he is spending the summer in Kenya identifying the next steps towards his solution.

In April, he spoke at the Innovate, Celebrate Awards Dinner. Below is what he had to say:

"Mine is a story of a young man whose mind has been transformed by education and entrepreneurship.

A friend and my mentor, Edwin Magema, co-founder of Peer to Peer for Peace, dared me to solve a conflict that has been in existence since time immemorial: the cattle rustling conflict between the West Pokot and Turkana communities in the Northern Region of Kenya. Although I’m from Kenya, the little I knew about the conflict was from reading newspapers and listening to stories from some high school friends who came from the region.

I asked myself the following entrepreneurial questions: What is the problem? Who are the players? What has been done? Why is the conflict still ongoing? I was determined to find the root of the problem as opposed to treating the conflict as the problem. I amassed as much information as I could regarding the conflict.

A blue moon in, I found an insight: a breakthrough of some sorts. The communities solely depend on cattle. During wet seasons, cattle rustling incidents spike. Why? They do not have other sources of income and when cattle die during the dry season, they have to replace them. This is the only part the NGOs and the governments fail to address, and it became the backbone of my solution where I will look for financial, cultural and educational innovations.

I was nominated by the Baker Institute and am now the recipient of the Kathryn Davis Foundation’s Projects for Peace Award. With the funding from that award I will begin my work in earnest this summer toward an entrepreneurial solution to the cattle rustling conflict in Northern Region of Kenya.

To end this short story, entrepreneurship allows me to see problems as opportunities to create solutions. At Lehigh I’ve found a community of diverse yet like-minded risk takers, we are being inspired to find solutions to some of the toughest world problems and that's exciting!

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