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Kenyan electronics technician uses online influence to lend a helping hand

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-06-15 17:01

Kevin Monare is seen working on a client's laptop at his shop in Nairobi's Imenti House. The electronics technician has risen to be one of the most influential voices online in Kenya. [Photo by Otiato Opali/chinadaily.com.cn]

One cannot talk about the popular online community commonly known as Kenyans on Twitter without mentioning Kevin Monare or Osama Otero, his Twitter moniker. This is because he has meteorically risen from a struggling electronics technician who joined social media on a whim to become arguably the most influential person in the Kenyan Twitter space.

Monare's interest in electronics started from a young age, when he started taking apart broken radios and repairing them. His interest grew as he grew older and he experimented with other electronics, including television sets and laptops. Before moving to Kenya's capital city Nairobi, Monare, now 30 years old, used his self-taught skills in Eldoret town to earn a living after he could not finish his college education due to unforeseen circumstances.

"Before I set up my shop in Nairobi in 2017, I used to be a freelancing electronics technician depending on phone calls and I would do the repairs at the customer's site. When I joined social media in April 2012, it was just for fun but after realizing I could expose my business further using the platform, I became more active and kept sending witty tweets and amassed a sizeable following," Monare said.

Having swiftly grown from a regular user to what is considered one of the greatest Kenyan influencers on the Twitter platform, with more than 110,000 followers, Monare found himself in a powerful position where local brands could approach him with marketing deals to make their brands reach customers through his online posts. This opened up a new stream of revenue for the electronics technician and supplemented his income.

However, with great power comes great responsibility and Monare realized he can use his wide reach to back charitable causes. After realizing being an online influencer should not just be about promoting brands to make money, Monare started using his platform to help those in need.

"On social media you do not have to undertake very big ventures if you want to help people. Some simple ways in which my posts have helped people include times when someone needs a blood donation and we are able to facilitate that through a tweet, or cases where we have located missing people just because I used my online presence to draw attention to the matter," Monare said.

The technician turned influencer says his social media inbox is awash with requests of people asking him to reach his followers for job openings, spread the word about their businesses or even raise funds for medical or other reasons. He uses his status as a leading influencer to lend a hand.

He also says through his friends on social media and the brands they work with, they have been able to carry out charitable activities like collecting clothes from the online community and distributing them to the homeless.

In 2019, he organized a charity drive under the Twitter hashtag #KOT4TheStreets to collect clothes for street families. He was not only overwhelmed by both the corporate and individual contributions to the initiative, but also humbled by the chance to interact with hundreds of street families and make a difference in their lives.

Admitting social media can be addictive, the online influencer says young people generally have a high affinity for technology. The trick, he added, is to turn that into something productive since the internet has brought with it many opportunities.

"I believe everybody is good at something, whether it is baking, photography, music, charity or any other venture. The trick is to be passionate about your area of interest and ensure you have organized and relevant content to share online. You do not have to be a bully or to do controversial things in order to get a following," Monare said.

Noting social media can be used to create employment for the youth as well as easily mobilize online communities to help each other and advance their lives, Monare decried the attempts by the government to introduce an online tax for online business and said the government should support the budding industry instead of erecting hurdles.

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