Chief Executive Officer, Deaf Empowerment Society of Kenya
Cohort: Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Nairobi, 2016
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Jacob Ireri is the Founder and CEO of Deaf Empowerment Society of Kenya (DESK), a nongovernmental organization for Deaf persons based in Kenya that seeks to advance the empowerment and independence of Deaf persons. Jacob has over seven years of professional work experience in the social purpose sector. Since founding DESK in 2013, Jacob has grown an extensive network of empowerment initiatives across Kenya. To combat the high unemployment rate, Jacob led an effort to educate businesses on how to integrate deaf people into their workplace. To date dozens of businesses around Kenya have been trained and hundreds of deaf persons have found jobs and are flourishing. To empower deaf people economically, from 2016 to 2018 Jacob led a partnership with USAID and the Kenyan government to deliver an intensive entrepreneurial program where upon graduation 151 participants were provided seed funding to start their income generating micro-businesses. His enterprise was recognized at the 2018 AIDF Innovator of the Year Award. Jacob holds a master’s degree in International development and is passionate about transforming livelihoods of poor and marginalized Deaf persons all across Kenya, and ultimately all across the globe.