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KCB Project to Curb Rising Youth Unemployment in Kenya?

by Nessa Shera
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The youth are the future; however with the lack of jobs in the market, most find themselves stuck in their homes, frustrated about what to do next.  Research shows that a total of over 1.3 million new employment places need to be created annually to meet the rising demand for jobs. KCB, with its new project called 2JIAJIRI”, plans to ensure that this high number of jobs be available for the many youths pouring out of educational institutions, ready to be part of the growing Kenyan market.

The project is a striving KShs.50 billion initiative development program that intends to grow a new force of youthful entrepreneurs within the informal sector to aid the country’s unemployment crisis. The same is expected to benefit at least 500,000 entrepreneurs in 5 years, and thus creating at least 2.5 million direct and indirect jobs. Sectors focused on include agricultural enterprise, automotive engineering, construction, beauty and domestic services.

“We have worked out a comprehensive youth empowerment program informed by our belief that the youth hold the greatest sway in the pace and trajectory that the East African economy will take into the future. We want to dignify the informal sector and give it the skills-set needed to churn the next generation of businesses for the informal sector” said Mr Oigara.

The money provided will facilitate for small and medium businesses run by the youth. The program seeks to target young entrepreneurs, 70% who already exist, and 30% potential businesspersons. The selected youths will be taught particular skill sets to grow and maintain their businesses, including financial support for startups and business advisory services.

The first stage will constitute of the existing entrepreneurs. Activities in this component will focus on up-scaling and formalizing the technical and enterprise skills of selected entrepreneurs through skills upgrading, technical certification, access to financial management training, services and products.

The second component will be focused on the remaining 30% of target beneficiaries and will seek to transfer technical skills to 3,000 new entrepreneurs. This will include building the skills of youth between the ages of 18-24 seeking to enter to be the agro-enterprise, automotive, construction, domestic services, fitness and beauty industries for the first time. Educational opportunities shall be intertwined with work-experience programs, flexible enough to ensure those selected get the best of both worlds, for example through evening or weekend classes.

Better still, for both groups there is a ‘safety net’ maneuver, where enterprise can turn into employment should their fledgling enterprises fail to mature. Thus guaranteeing a source of adequate income, even when things don’t work out as planned.

In fact, 2,000 youths have already begun classes in 89 institutions spread across the country for the various 3-6 months courses. After their training, the graduates will be put under a 12 months incubation program. “… With an incubation program, we will promote ideas, offer mentor ship, provide concepts and methods to create an optimal environment for free enterprise,” added Mr Oigara.

Statics show that almost 155,000 youth who join the labor market yearly after graduating or courses in various universities or other educational institutions, often do not meet the expectation of employers. Furthermore, over one million young people enter into the labor market annually without any skills considering some have either dropped out of school or hadn’t enrolled in any college.

In Kenya, about 70 percent of the young working class, almost 10 million people, are unemployed. Otiatio, an economic expert, described Kenya’s youth unemployment situation as a “ticking time bomb.” While the government has found some jobs for the youth, many complain that the money they receive is hardly sufficient. “The money they’re giving us is inadequate; you can’t plan or live with it,” says Mwanzia, who was being paid a mere $3 (Kshs 300) for working an eight-hour day for the NYS. As a result, violent criminal attacks, including rape, mugging, armed carjacking and home invasions are increasingly being associated with the youth these days. An alarming 50% of convicted criminals are young people aged between 16 and 25 years.

KCB Group believes that this program will be a game changer, enabling more than a million youths to enter into the job market, and ensuring that they go home with their wallets adequately full to guarantee a proper livelihood. But as a youth, how can you be a part of this project? If you’re interested in further information, email: jsodhiambo@kcb.co.ke

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