Youth and Entreprenuership
In the past, getting jobs was not really a hustle. All one had to do was to complete high school, go to university and get straight into the job market. Even those that didn’t really clear school or qualify to go to university were able to get themselves pretty good jobs. Nowadays, even the fortunate enough to go to university are having a tough time getting descent and productive jobs. ‘Tarmacking’ has become a normality.
Unlike in the developed world where the youth are exposed to part time jobs at a tender age, no such opportunities are available in developing countries. Low economic growth, corruption, nepotism and the ever increasing demand for years of experience by employers is certainly not helping the Kenyan youth score jobs. This has led to a greater than ever rate of unemployment resulting in an upsurge of social vices such as crime, prostitution, drug peddling and abuse among others. Bearing in mind that the worst is yet to come, trust the youth not to sit back and submerge in poverty. Being young and full of life they are not letting these tough times bring them down and are breaking barriers never broken before.
Today’s Kenyan youth are turning into top-notch entrepreneurs. With the great level of unemployment, a growing number of college graduates are choosing to venture into business on graduation as a source of livelihood. Through creativity, they are using their knowledge, skill and abilities to come up with ingenious ideas that have helped bridge the gap between poverty and prosperity. The youth are setting the trend in every industry they lay a hand on.
The media industry is one that has seen remarkable youth participation. Production houses have come up serving the music industry by producing music and their videos as well. Industries that have largely contributed to the economy such as the agricultural sector which is largely affiliated with the elderly is now attracting the youth as they realize its money making potential. They are taking this broad industry by storm as they engage in various activities from rearing poultry and cattle to taking on farming. A good example is the various groups of young men and women who recently made news for fish farming in parts of Central province. Maybe not so unique in Nyanza due its proximity to Lake Victoria but coming from Central province this clearly shows how necessity is the mother of invention as they have dug ponds to rear fish and are making a kill out of it. The transport industry is one that is certainly influenced by the youth. ‘Matatus’ are known to specifically appeal to them and they are going out of their way to open garages where they custom make these public service vehicles. Their ground-breaking ideas are also being seen in ICT, which is practically running today’s world. Activities such as creative arts, drama and poetry have also been commercialized. New business ideas such as errand services, proposal writing to business consultancies are emerging, in the process creating employment and consequently contributing toward the country’s economy.
Though the youth may be thriving with ideas but starting up any business is never a straightforward task. With registrations and license permits to pay for, the major hurdle for many is capital. Not only has the government lent a helping hand with the youth fund but it has paved way for other organizations such as 'Enablis' who have also come out in a bid to assist the youth. They not only grant loans and funds but are also coming up with programmes that mentor the young entrepreneurs. They provide personalized advice which helps new entrepreneurs gain confidence; overcome the typical challenges of a new venture; understand local market opportunities and become self-sufficient in business.
Youth entrepreneurship is not only an increasing phenomenon in Africa but in the world over. Entrepreneurship is without a doubt alleviating poverty hence raising standards of living. If much more support were to be granted to the cause, this could lead to a much stronger economy.
Brooks Atkinson, a famous American theatre critic once said, “This nation was built by men who took risks - pioneers who were not afraid of the wilderness, business men who were not afraid of failure, scientists who were not afraid of the truth, thinkers who were not afraid of progress, dreamers who were not afraid of action.”
By Eva Waweru