THE BLOG

Kenyan Youth Rewriting The Narrative One Entrepreneurial Venture At A Time

Kenyan young people are moving away from the conventional white-collar employment opportunities and embracing entrepreneurship.

24/10/2017 03:59 SAST
FatCamera/ Getty Images

'Go forth and fill the earth...' a commandment that we Africans have diligently and unapologetically adhered to. Perhaps God should have decreed that we go forth and fill the earth responsibly, but who's complaining?

We are the most fertile continent, with the youngest and fastest-growing population on earth. Take my country Kenya, for instance, approximately 3,000 Kenyans are born every day, over a million every year. These statistics may be perceived as particularly staggering for an emerging economy.

In Kenya, the youth (aged between 18 and 34 years old) make up more than one-third of the population. This means that with over 70 percent of Kenya's population being less than 30 years of age; we are, quite literally, the future.

Around 1 million youth join the labour force every year -- that is 1 million more youth who are potentially going to remain unemployed, their academic prowess or lack thereof notwithstanding.

Kenyan youth, obstinate and creative, are moving away from the conventional white-collar employment opportunities and a majority of them are embracing entrepreneurship. They are constantly innovating ways of curbing the unemployment menace and are looking to the informal sector to create their own jobs and enhance their independence.

Some of them have formed investment groups called chamas. Others have embraced agriculture, design, hospitality or public transport, investing in taxis, motorcycle taxis called boda-bodas and tuk-tuks. Many young people, even those working in the formal sector have a combination of two jobs, a day job and an alternative one fondly referred to as a 'side hustle'. Branching out to the informal sector has steadily helped in managing the youth bulge.

Many have taken advantage of the incredible internet connectivity in Kenya to establish numerous e-businesses, which range from blogs to fully fledged tech businesses.

The internet has also played a vital role in the success of e-commerce businesses established by the youth. Kenya's internet speed was ranked the fastest in Africa and the Middle East in the Akamai State of the Internet Report 2016 and yet another report by Internet World Stats places the number of internet users in Kenya at approximately 37 million.

Many have taken advantage of the incredible internet connectivity in Kenya to establish numerous e-businesses, which range from blogs to fully fledged tech businesses.

Take for instance Bunifu Technologies, a young tech startup in Kenya that received the Microsoft Innovation IT Services Award last year for creating Africa's first anti-virus software. Even greater success could be witnessed in this sector with stronger internet connectivity in rural areas coupled with easier access to gadgets.

Private firms and corporations are also championing youth empowerment by developing programmes and even shows meant to sharpen business acumen of youth. Such shows include Safaricom's Blaze Be Your Own Boss TV Show.

The youth entrepreneurship reality show featured 12 contestants who battled it out for KES. Five million, which included 3 million in cash and 2 million in support in terms of mentorship, business support and financial advice. Also notable is KCB Bank's The Lions' Den, a show where aspiring entrepreneurs get to pitch their business ideas and products to a panel of Kenyan business moguls with the capital and the know-how it takes to succeed.

The Kenyan youth are hungry for success and eager to make a mark, investing in them is one of the surest ways of reaping economic dividends. Once equipped with the necessary skills, expertise, mentorship and funding, young people will have a fighting chance.