Nail polish or code, his hands are getting dirty anyway! #LakeHubStory

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So I am about to post this story then an article I read a year ago on how programming can help fight poverty came to mind. So I googled it and, as it turns out, today is the 1st anniversary of that article! What a cool way to begin a LakeHub Story? You will find that link at the end of this article.

Enter Musa Wagole. A programmer currently working on a web application that would help keep track of stock at boutiques. At a glance, he seems like your everyday techie waiting to pounce on and develop solutions around a challenge. Not until you hear his full story.

Musa learned about LakeHub about a year ago, when one of this friends suggested that he could tag along to a techie’s meet-up at a local restaurant, Hotel Salazar. Those days we did not have a space yet, and it is in spaces such as coffee houses we met to network and build our skills. It is one such day that he decided to join  the community at LakeHub. And liked it instantly.


Musa with one of his clients.

Musa in the streets,  getting his hands dirty with nail polish. He charges 50 shillings (0.5USD) for a pedicure.

But you see, Musa is a street beautician. He makes ladies look good. Manicuring and pedicuring is his kind of thing.

So how did it all begin? Musa concedes that he has had tough upbringing. “My father separated from my mother very early in my life. I had to really grow up on my own, as my father did not provide much for me after primary school. I woke up every day to look for work and take myself to school. This is how I started my hustle.” Musa narrates of his life in Mbale, Uganda. “But one day after Form 4, one of my friends told me to “go to Kisumu and that there are opportunities there”. He came to Kisumu and began hawking shoes and stuff like that while crushing at a friend’s place.

He gradually transitioned to his current beauty business making between KES 300 and KES 700 ($3-$7) daily. This allowed him to get his own house and start paying fees at a local college. Musa says the moment he began school he found it difficult to manage his classes and having to work. But one day as he was serving one of his regular customers they happen to hold a conversation about his studies and luckily enough, the client decided to clear the rest of his college fees. That saved him a great deal he says. All he needed now was to focus on learning more about computers science and perhaps only worry about his rent.


A little bit of code at the hub. Well, unlike the other two photos in this article this particular one was not arranged. Probably captured this without his knowledge, but I can never be too sure!

So that’s how he found more time to frequent LakeHub to use the freely available space and internet to collaborate with other members to learn new hardcore skills. During one half of the day at the hub, he is your everyday coder yearning to disrupt the tech-space with that new trick they have just learned. Yet again while out in the streets in the afternoon, he camouflages himself amongst the thousands of hustlers braving the Kisumu sun to earn anything).

To us at LakeHub, this is one good example of how the co-working space is gradually transforming the region both socially and economically. When Musa walked into LakeHub for the first time, he only had basic knowledge of computing, but he met like-minded folks who could walk with him all the way. He also, like many community members can attest of themselves, got provoked to do more than just use the computer to perform simple tasks. He wanted to write software. So after one of a series of meetups and hackathons we often host, he decided he wanted to specifically build web applications that could transform the way we do business.

He hasn’t look far. With the knowledge and support he has is acquiring from fellow community members at LakeHub he is already building a web app that would help boutiques he frequents keep stock and sales using php, a language he says he has come to really like. And “that is not enough. I want to learn .jsp and Python so that I can harness more computing power for the good of business” Musa remains determined, and with that kind of spirit, it’s just a matter of time!


Inadvertently posted on the first anniversary of “Fighting Poverty Using Code”,  read it on Medium.

  1. francis omondi 3 years ago

    I like Musa’s spirit.

  2. Brian Raila 3 years ago

    Inspiring story.
    With the awesome community at LakeHub Kisumu, its possible for him.
    At this age its important to learn that coding is more than a skill…its a tool

  3. TheBonface 3 years ago

    what more should i say, being ‘touched’ would be an understatement …

  4. KamalOgudah 3 years ago

    Inspiring read.All the best Musa in your coding journey.

  5. Ferdinand Salis 3 years ago

    Love what you are doing, Musa. All the best!

  6. Albert Njema 3 years ago

    Great Musa. You r an inspiration to many.

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