The BOOST project, a significant initiative aimed at fostering a circular economy in Kenya, has recently concluded after four impactful years. The project was a collaborative effort involving MDF (lead), Close the Gap, Crosswise Works, and NITA, funded by a €1.5 million matching grant from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) through its SDG Partnership facility (SDGP). With a focus on circularity, decent employment, entrepreneurship, skills development, and youth employment, the BOOST project has achieved remarkable milestones, bringing positive changes to Mombasa and its surrounding areas.

Project overview

Initiated in July 2019, the BOOST project, before named as ‘LEAP2’, sought to address the high youth unemployment rate and the e-waste challenge in Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city. The region, home to East Africa's largest port, suffers from a skills gap and limited job opportunities for its young population. The project's goals were to increase labor productivity, reduce unemployment, improve access to financial services, and promote sustainable economic growth, particularly for women and youth.

The project was implemented through three main pillars: BOOST Your Tech (BYT), BOOST Your Business (BYB), and BOOST Your Learning (BYL). Each pillar was managed by a consortium partner, working collaboratively to develop an ecosystem that supports circular economy practices, entrepreneurship, and skills development.

Key achievements

1. Reaching and exceeding targets: The BOOST project met or surpassed nearly all its key performance indicators (KPIs), with an average of 126%. We are very proud of the number of ICT assets that have been sold, reaching impact partners and communities. The project supported 41 workers with improved labor conditions, 59% of whom were women and 85% youth, exceeding the target of 27 workers. Additionally, 896 workers experienced improved labor productivity, 342 individuals developed income-generating activities, and 423 jobs were created, far surpassing the target of 300 jobs.

Preparing laptops at the Circular Economy Hub facility.

2. Skills development and training: The project provided extensive training in technical and employability skills. It developed an accredited vocational training curriculum, which was piloted and implemented by trainers at NITA. Although the target of training 1,400 staff members of companies in the Mombasa region was not fully achieved (77% completed), the project trained many more interns than initially planned.

3. Entrepreneurship and incubation: The BOOST project effectively increased business and entrepreneurial skills among participants. It provided incubation support, leading to the creation of several successful startups. Although fundraising and formal business registration for startups proved challenging due to their pre-incubation phase, the designed flow from inspiration to co-creation to incubation worked well, attracting more participants than expected.

4. Awareness and engagement: The project raised awareness about the circular economy, reaching over 27,000 people through campaigns, exceeding the target of 10,000. Demonstration days and co-creation events were particularly successful, with businesses actively seeking BOOST project support.

5. Gender and inclusion: The project achieved its gender and inclusion indicators, with dedicated incubation programs for women and the creation of conducive spaces at the CTG Hub. All project pillars were led by women, reinforcing the project's commitment to gender mainstreaming.

Challenges and learnings

· Circular Economy understanding: One major challenge was the unfamiliarity with the concept of a circular economy among the local population. The project addressed this by developing a creative communication strategy that simplified the terminology and promoted the circularity of electronic and electrical equipment.

· Employer resistance: The project faced resistance from employers regarding training on circularity and decent working conditions. By tactically engaging with employers and seeking support from umbrella bodies or associations, the project managed to mitigate some of this resistance.

· Digital inclusion: Despite efforts to provide affordable ICT devices, the cost remained prohibitive for the most disadvantaged populations. This highlighted the ongoing need for projects aimed at digital inclusion, suggesting alternative approaches such as locally built or shared devices.

Sustainability and future prospects

The sustainability of the BOOST project appears promising. The Close the Gap Hub in Mombasa is continuing its operations, and they have even expanded their activities to Nairobi and beyond. MDF has secured interest from various funders and partners, ensuring the continuation of its BOOST Your Learning services. Institutional and organizational sustainability is strengthened by the local embedding of project knowledge and the empowerment of staff to continue offering programs post-project.

CTG Hub at Ratna Square.

Lessons learned

The BOOST project has provided valuable insights into effective partnership management, local engagement, and project implementation. One key lesson was the power of local anchoring, which demonstrated that collaborating closely with county and national governments could significantly enhance project outcomes. The cross-cultural management approach proved sustainable, as locally embedded staff played a crucial role in driving the project's success. Additionally, the use of videos and social media events showed that visual communication can effectively engage target audiences, boosting participation and trust in the project. We also learned the importance of starting storytelling early to build credibility and trust.

We managed to inspire many government officials on the circular economy theme when they visited our hub and the facility.


The BOOST project has made significant strides in advancing Kenya's circular economy, improving working conditions, and creating job opportunities for youth and women. Its success demonstrates the potential of collaborative efforts in addressing complex societal challenges and provides a strong foundation for future initiatives aimed at sustainable development and economic growth.