Michael Waiyaki: From Digging Pit latrines to Inspiring a Generation of Activists

  • Miti Alliance founder Michael Waiyaki during a tree planting exercise on October 2018.
    Miti Alliance founder Michael Waiyaki during a tree planting exercise in October 2018.
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  • On July 23, 2020, Michael Waiyaki Nganga celebrated his 38th birthday, and with the years came wisdom and experience from the journey of his life.

    He is the founder and CEO of Miti Alliance a non-governmental conversation body that focusses on planting, growing and maintaining trees through educating, empowering and sustaining, a movement he believes strongly in. 

    Before becoming the established character he is today, Waiyaki went through some phases in life which he shared with Kenyans.co.ke in a candid interview.

    Miti Alliance founder and CEO Michael Waiyaki (left) during a tree planting activity in May 2019.
    Miti Alliance founder and CEO Michael Waiyaki (left) during a tree planting activity in May 2019.
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    His humble beginnings played a key role in his work ethic and determination to make something out his life. Growing up in Limuru, Waiyaki was a troubled teen who at some point got expelled from school.

    When he was in his early twenties, his parents 'left him to the world' as he put it and that was when he had to find ways to fend for himself.

    Together with a couple of friends, he engaged in a number of activities to make some money including digging pit latrines and wells in the area. 

    "I was also selling avocados, and I was even a tout to make ends meet," the father of four and husband to one narrated to this writer. 

    Michael Waiyaki (left) during his early 20s when he would dig pit latrines and wells to make ends meet.
    Michael Waiyaki (left) during his early 20s when he would dig pit latrines and wells to make ends meet.
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    Michael Waiyaki

    His fortunes appeared to change when his father paid for him to attend accounting school and he eventually landed a job. This was however shortlived as he lost his job in 2010.

    "At the time I was a heavy drinker and even though it did not affect my work it really ruined my social life as I was in bad company and I was fired," he stated.

    Waiyaki, who is a born-again Christian went through the rough patch of life when he could not pay rent but his landlord emphathised with his situation as he would survive with a meal a day at that point.

    In 2013, his life picked up again as he landed a job to distribute solar panels to schools in the whole country and also got married.

    He was later elected president of the Rotaract Club of Nairobi Central Area and was acknowledged for his work in renewable energy in several international platforms including the World Economic Forum where he was nominated to be Part of 5,000 world-leading experts engaged by the organisation to help shape the global agenda in 2017.

    Waiyaki has also served in the Young Scientists of Kenya (YSK) board who's goal is to increase the interest of stem education in schools among students. He has also served as the national director of the organisation.

    Currently, he is advocating for planting of trees through his organisation, Miti Alliance where he runs a number of programs including Adopt a Forest and Kitchen Gardens in Children's home.

    Miti Alliance CEO Michael Waiyaki at the organisation's nursery.
    Miti Alliance CEO Michael Waiyaki at the organisation's nursery.
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    "You do not have to go plant trees in Mau forest to show you are into conservation. Planting trees starts at home, right where people are and that is what our program is about," he explained.

    The conservationist's mantra is service to humanity and if he had a chance to sit down with his younger self his advice would be, "Try as many things as you can, learn as many things as possible. Realise that you are only here for a season. And also travel widely, as you go out there, you learn a lot of things and expand your mind."