Jeff Ayako, 24

CEO

Marpcadark
My Story

By the time Jeff turns 28, he wants to have employed more than 3,000 youth. His dream is not just to beat the unemployment crisis in Kenya but also to change the manufacturing sector.

“My friends call me the Kenyan Elon Musk. I am an innovator, I like finding solutions and that’s why by 28, I want to employ at least 3,000 people. In school, we are taught to be good employees but never taught how to be employers. I want young people to see that they can create jobs for themselves,” he says.

Now a fourth-year engineering student at Kenyatta University, Jeff is not your typical youth. He was bestowed the Head of State commendation (HSC) for being part of a team that developed the first African mechanical ventilator during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He is also the CEO of Marpcadark, a company that he started when he was a third-year student.

"My friends call me the Kenyan Elon Musk. I am an innovator, I like finding solutions and that’s why by 28, I want to employ at least 3,000 people."

After realising that his skills and passion lay in innovation, Jeff joined a team of Aerospace Engineering students tasked to work on the design and development of a satellite, in partnership with Kenya Space Agency (KSA). The project will result in a satellite being launched by Kenya into space.

“KSA invited all university students to apply for a Sh1 million grant. My team was successful. The grant was to be used to develop a proof of concept nanosatellite. This took us six months to finish. Out of the six universities, four made it to the final space-grade satellite for agricultural use and disaster detection such as floods or locusts,” he says.

“I am the lead in this project which will likely launch it into space in about 14 months,” he says.

The role he plays as a young innovator comes with some level of respect from his peers, but also the pressure to mentor other young innovators.

“I derive passion from seeing people happy because of my work and knowing I am making an impact. I like coming up with solutions, it fills my heart. Jeff is a product of initiative and mentorship.

“I am mentored by geniuses,” he says.

Mercy Simiyu