Technology

Connecting the dots on Kenya’s growing platform livelihoods

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Summary

  • Focus has been on urban markets forgetting that 68.9percent of our population is rural based, offering a healthy market despite not being geographically consolidated.
  • A model to explore is group purchases fulfilled weekly, a different take on online product or service subscriptions that we see in other markets, with lower tech digital touchpoints.

Looking at data from the 2019 Population Census and the Economic Survey of 2021 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, some gaps and opportunities jump out especially when we consider our youth dividend, with those aged between 18 and 35 years at just under 14 million.

This baseline information is important because it provides great context for understanding the why and how of Kenya’s youth, as they mature into a situation where the government has fallen short of creating an enabling environment that brings about more formalised jobs.

Formalised does not mean blue collar. Speaking more into the structure of enterprise in ways that allows for proper ‘value capture’ and ‘value extension’.

A recent study by Qhala and Caribou Digital in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation examined how Kenya's youth participate in gig work, e-commerce, social commerce, the sharing economy, and content creation as a means to earn a living; broadly referred to as platform livelihoods.

Rather than speak to the content itself, here is my take on opportunities present when one juxtaposes the outcomes from the report with the census and economic survey data.

Rural markets

Focus has been on urban markets forgetting that 68.9percent of our population is rural based, offering a healthy market despite not being geographically consolidated.

A model to explore is group purchases fulfilled weekly, a different take on online product or service subscriptions that we see in other markets, with lower tech digital touchpoints like USSD.

County governments and private sector are best suited to deploy the infrastructure needed. Build it, and they will come.

Access to credit and financing ‘The totality of somebody’s digital livelihood is rarely as simple as one profile reflected on a platform’.

We do not have a single view of those participating in gig work, making it difficult to access credit or financing that can disbursed to the atomicity of a day.

The velocity of money and the amounts at play here per worker make for a lucrative pursuit.

Farm to table to wallet Urban areas are consumption centres with production often happening outside.

Feeding urban populations remains a big opportunity that touches on farming, commerce and logistics.

The margins in the traditional value chain are sufficient to support niche participation even with price disruption brought about by technology.

The possible upside is stemming the traditional rural to urban migration as the opportunity stretches back with infrastructure, as simple as newly paved roads and access to better devices and connectivity increases.

With over 100 pages of insights, you can get your copy of the report, draw many more conclusions, and perhaps identify other ways you can participate in the platform economy.

Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia