Bob Mwiti is the co-founder of the Kenya Airlift program, which sponsors brilliant Kenyan students to pursue master’s degrees in IT at select American Universities. He is also the managing director of Appstec America, a tech company.
From a humble background in Meru to a lucrative career abroad, this is his journey as told by WoK:
Speaking in an interview with People Daily, Mwiti narrated that he was the result of a teenage pregnancy, so he was raised by his grandparents as his parents continued their education.
His education journey began at a local public primary school in Meru called Gikumene. There, he topped his KCPE class in 1977.
He was called to the prestigious Nairobi school but his guardians could not afford the sh 50, 000 school fees demanded.
Consequently, Mwiti joined Nkubu High School, where he sat his KCSE and graduated with a B plain.
After high school, he tried to join his father, who lived in the UK, but his efforts were thwarted when he was denied a Visa four times.
He therefore joined the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, Accounting and Finance.
However, due to UON’s notoriety for student strikes at the time, he quit after only six months and joined Strathmore University to continue with his studies.
It was there that his exposure developed via interactions with other students and he started thinking of pursuing his studies abroad.
After his graduation, he worked for a while as a teller at an Equity Bank branch in Westlands. However, he was constantly beckoned by dreams of greener pastures abroad.
The American Dream
In 2009, Mwiti applied for a Visa, this time successfully, and moved to the USA to pursue a master’s degree at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He had set his mind on settling in the USA, so he began to look for work even before he graduated. He even extended his studies by one semester.
“As a foreign student in America, once your student Visa expires, the government considers your residence as illegal,” he explained in an interview on the Bonga na Jalas platform.
The only thing that can save you is if you get a job, in which case you can apply for a work visa.
His experience as a bank teller, typically a role for high school graduates in the U.S., did not give him a competitive edge.
To increase his chances of getting employed, he enrolled in a five-month course as an IT systems analyst, which enabled him to land a job in 2012.
As he explained, IT skills were, and are still in high demand in the USA.
He worked for about five years before dabbling into private practice as a tech consultant.
Kenya Airlift Program
In 2016, Bob Mwitiwas granted a green card, which enabled him to establish his own IT company in the U.S.
He founded Appstec Systems in 2017, a company specializing in Robotic processes, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine learning.
Despite his success, he never forgot the struggles he faced as a foreign student in the U.S.
He therefore partnered with Hon. Dennis Kiogora to cofound the Kenya Airlift Program in 2018.
It was an initiative aimed to assist talented Kenyan students in pursuing their dreams of studying highly marketable IT master’s programs at selected universities in the USA.
As he explains, Masters programs in the US can be very expensive, costing over sh 5 million. However, through the Kenya Airlift program, students’ studies are funded via loans and grants.
To qualify for the program, students must pass the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) with a score of at least 550 out of 800. They must also have achieved a minimum of a B plain in KCSE with a B in Math.
According to the CEO, who lives in Tampa, Florida, over 200 Kenyans have so far benefited from the program.
In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded the 2021 Global Impact Award from the International Council of Educational Professionals.
When Bob Mwiti is not working, the father of two enjoys learning about tech topics, especially AI and machine learning. He is also an ardent fan of Formula 1 racing and football.