Kenya as a growing economy has been encouraging investments as a means to the end that is Kenya Vision 2030 – the targeted year when the country hopes to earn middle-income status, providing high quality of life to all its citizens.
Fourteen million Kenyans out of a total population of 38-million-plus are between age 15 and 35, according to Paul Otuoma, former minister for youth affairs and sports, who spoke during a Youth Employment Forum in 2011.
A young, growing labor force coupled with slow economic growth translated to “only about 25 percent of the economically active labor force being gainfully absorbed in the labor market,” according to the speech, published on Fes-Kenya.org.
Each year, a half million youth join the labor market in formative stages of their careers, but 75 percent of the labor force is unemployed.
According to Fred Wambugu, a social entrepreneur who has worked with Kenyan enterprises both in a corporate and humanitarian capacity as a former member of Rotary International, formal employment has failed Kenya’s young population.
“As a result,” Wambugu added, “Kenyans have been encouraged to start up their own businesses.”
For the average Kenyan, capital is a crucial but elusive aspect to rolling the entrepreneurial ball. Banks charge high interest rates on loans, and even then, only the few start-up businesses they deem viable qualify for credit. Getting funded for an idea has proven difficult, leading many ideas to fail before takeoff.
However, opportunity abounds in the young Kenyan population. Evans Muriu, CEO of Vance Motors and Vance Consult in Nairobi, is one such young entrepreneur.
With more than six years in project management, Muriu told AFK Insider that, “It’s all in the way we think. I tell my friends and mentees that we need to shun the idea that money makes the world go round. We need to get offline a little more, and get down to less talking and more action. Once the ideas start translating into actions, the actions gradually bring the money.”
Venture capitalism has recently come in handy for young hard-working Kenyans with the right combination of business acumen and grit to nurture ideas into ventures. Such enterprises, which exhibit long-term growth potential, have provided a bustling market for venture capitalists and philanthropists alike.