Entrepreneurship can unlock jobs for young people


Jobseekers in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

It is now common knowledge that Kenya is among countries with high unemployment rates.

Kenya has to create at least 900,000 jobs annually between now and 2025 to absorb the high number of youths joining the job market, according to the latest World Bank report.

The report further says about nine million individuals are expected to enter the labour force in a decade between 2015 and 2025.

Regionally Kenya is comparatively doing badly in term of unemployment rates. Youth unemployment has sharply risen to 22.2 percent, significantly higher than Tanzania (5.2 percent) and Uganda (4 percent).

So what should Kenya do to address this challenge? And what should the youth themselves do to help lessen the biting job shortage?

It is encouraging that young people are making good progress in seeking answers to the question of unemployment. Over the recent past, there has been a rise in the number of entrepreneurs in IT, real estate, music, boda boda, retail among other sectors. Youths have realised that in order to succeed, they have to take their futures in their hands.

Indeed, it has become apparent that with creativity as well as hard work, young people have the ability to create jobs for themselves and others and turn their lives around.

Last year, Forbes Magazine named eight Kenyans on the list of the 30 most promising young entrepreneurs in Africa. This goes to illustrate that Kenyan youth are bubbling with brilliant ideas that can transform their lives.

Admittedly entrepreneurship is not the silver bullet to the rampant unemployment. As we come up with a conducive environment for startups to thrive, we should appreciate that not all graduates who are unemployed have entrepreneurship DNA in their system. This means we need to look for other solutions for this segment.

However, entrepreneurship holds a prominent place in efforts to generate jobs. This is especially the case in Kenya where there are vast opportunities for business ventures. Agriculture, real estate, technology, among others, have great potential for young entrepreneurs. Agriculture for instance holds huge potential taking into account the fact that we export most of the produce raw; going the value addition way will engender millions of jobs while boosting the national coffers.

The youth themselves need to cash in on various progammes rolled out to equip them with the necessary skills in starting a business and puting it in a firm footing. Every other day, we see initiatives by corporates, NGOs as well as the government aimed at financing, mentoring and training young entrepreneurs. Also almost every bank has programmes as well as funding targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

There are also various startup accelerator programmes equipping young entrepreneurs with the requisite set of skills to enable them weather waves of storms they are bound to run into in the business world. This is the way forward. The next step is to find how to get the best out of these initiatives.

The government has come up with a raft of incentives too. The process of setting up a business has been considerably simplified following digitisation of many public services. For instance, the requirements to start a business have been made less stringent. These are admiral strides. However, we can still do more to tap the entrepreneurship potential of our youth.

With counties now becoming key economic units, governors need to come up with aggressive strategies to identify brilliant business ideas from among their youth, and provide them with the necessary tools to make them a reality.

Counties can enter into partnerships with corporates, NGOs and other organisations ready to provide financial support, incubation as well as training and mentorship so as to entrench the culture of entrepreneurship across the country.

Mr Kaburu is the founder and chief executive Kwetu Real Estate Limited.