, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – A civil Society report indicates that the Kenyan youth need more than easy access to affordable finance to succeed as entrepreneurs.
Speaking while releasing the multi-sectoral interim report The Africa Youth Trust Executive Director Nahashon Gulali said access to finance is necessary but not sufficient to help youth entrepreneurs launch their own businesses.
“Access to finance must be supported by both knowledge capital and social capital to succeed as entrepreneurs,’’ Gulali said.
The report indicates that the youth unemployment rates are much higher than the national unemployment rate.
According to the study, not only is Kenya’s employment challenge a youth issue, it is a more pronounced issue among those younger than thirty five years of age.
‘‘Majority of Kenya’s young people are unemployed, underemployed or underpaid and are therefore in the swelling ranks of the working poor. This makes the youth vulnerable to exploitation and places an economic burden on the employed and the government,’’ he explained.
Gulali said the divorce between the outcomes of curriculum and labour market demand worsens unemployment growth.
‘‘It points out that the educational system often produces graduates who lack the necessary skills to compete in the labour market. This means that unemployment is not just a lack of jobs, but also a lack of job skills due to inadequacy of the training infrastructure as well as the means to acquire skills due to the high levels of poverty,’’ said Gulali.
Gulali said the weak linkage between education and training institutions and industry needs to be addressed in order to strengthen employability for the youth.
‘‘There is an opportunity to continually review curricula in partnership with research institutions, industry players and educators in line with market needs,’’ said Gulali.
He said the labour market is characterized by lack of timely and comprehensive data and information.
‘‘There is also a lack of centralized data source on all key interventions on employment creation by the diverse stakeholders thus undermining coordination of efforts. In addition, the youth face the challenge of accessing timely and relevant information about youth employment matters,’’ he said.
Gulali said that knowledge capital will assist youth entrepreneurs understand markets, resources, and government support opportunities while social capital will provide connections to mentors, customers and government contracts.
‘‘Entrepreneurship is not all about access to finance, Youth entrepreneurs must be able to access markets besides developing soft skills so as to be able to repay loans and make their businesses sustainable,’’ said Gulali.
He said promotion of youth micro-enterprises for self employment, supporting growth of the micro-enterprises will lead to increased employment opportunities for young people which now stand at over sixty percent.
‘‘Kenya’s unemployment rate stands at forty percent out of which over sixty percent represent unemployed youth according to a 2013 UNDP Youth Employment Challenge Discussion Paper,’’ he said.