June 27, 2024

Josiah Muriuki, an Aspire Leaders Program alumnus and Social Impact Seed Fund winner from Kenya, shared his story of resilience, giving back, and creating an initiative focused on mentorship. His story began from humble beginnings in Kirinyaga County, Kenya. Muriuku’s charisma, hard work, and determination allowed him to find opportunities outside of his community – but he continues to return to make sure he supports his family.

Early Life and Education

Growing up in a small community at the base of Mount Kenya, he helped his family run their farm. He recalled how he walked two kilometers to school barefoot and never received breakfast in his home.

His parents always provided him with encouragement to continue to study hard to bring his family out of poverty.

During his final year of primary school, he was sponsored and went to a private boarding school away from his home. For his high school education, he received a four year scholarship from the Equity Group Foundation’s Wings to Fly program. Here, he could wear shoes and a uniform – and he began eating breakfast every day since there was food provided for every meal. He felt this shift and began to feel a sense of privilege for this opportunity. 

Academic and Leadership Development

Muriuki was an excellent student who was always top in English and Chemistry, however, he faced major challenges in Math. He engaged with teachers and fellow students to improve these skills. At the same time, he worked hard to overcome his initial low self-esteem that caused him to be shy and fear public speaking.

His leadership skills blossomed as he took on various roles, including serving in the Christian Union in High School and as the president of the Equity Leaders Club when he went on to study at the University of Nairobi. During his tenure as president, he transformed the club from a simple Whatsapp group into a registered organization that garnered support from the university administration. Currently, he serves as the chairperson of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at University of Pretoria and sits on the board of the Institute for Food Technologist’s Student’s Association (IFTSA).

Founding Beta Mentor and Becoming an Entrepreneur

While he was studying toward his degree in industrial chemistry at the University of Nairobi, he founded Beta Mentor Africa. Driven by his passion for the community, this initiative aims to develop young leaders, providing resources and information on personal branding, career mentorship, and access to global opportunities. This initiative also received resources from the Aspire Institute Social Impact Seed Fund (SISF). 

Recently, the program partnered with a local driving school, Maridady Auto Academy, to provide driving school scholarships to students – as driving is a key skill that will allow them to expand where they can study and work. They also launched a school feeding program to ensure students always get breakfast and don’t feel hungry after lunch as Muriuki often did while growing up. The program is fueled by Muriuki’s love for community service and couples with his knowledge in the field of food science.

Continuing Education and Building Global Networks

Muriuki continues to show determination and an ability to connect with others, leading to numerous accolades and scholarships. He currently studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on a scholarship from the Mastercard Foundation. He has represented his university and country at international conferences and continues to network with others in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

Experiencing the Aspire Leaders Program and Continuing Engagement With Aspire Institute

The Aspire Leaders Program provided another opportunity to expand his network and develop his leadership skills. 

“Everyone who knows me, knows that I always say, ‘your network is your net worth,’” he said. 

Muriuki enjoyed the structured and immersive program, allowing him to have consistent engagement over several months. He engaged in cross-cultural exchanges and learned from his diverse cohort of young, global leaders. The fact that the program was online made it very effective in connecting across countries. 

“I have a friend from Ghana now because of Aspire,” he shared.

During the program, Muriuki reflected and thought deeply about the value of education and mentorship, shaping some of the work he has done to develop BetterMentor Africa. 

Muriuki was able to visit our team in Cambridge, MA over a year ago as well before he completed the program. This allowed him to further engage with our team and learn more about the upcoming Extended Leadership Program.

Ongoing Mentorship and Giving Back to His Community

Muriuki continues to mentor others who express interest in the Aspire Leaders Program and encourage others to pursue opportunities to expand their network, leadership skills, and global perspectives. 

Josiah Muriuki also received a social impact seed fund award this year to continue his mentorship activities in Kenya through BetterMentor.

In addition to the activities he conducts to mentor peers and other young leaders, he also continues to give back and support his family.

“I support my family by paying my sister’s school fees, and I am humbled to have had the privilege earlier this year to help build my parents a new house,” he said.

He hopes that as he continues to find success, he can share his knowledge and support with family and community members who supported him throughout his early years.


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