This is what it will take Kenya to address youth unemployment

According to International Labour Organization, there are about 73 million jobless youth globally.

The Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) report published last month insists in the need to urgently address youth unemployment, citing it as a possible cause of slowed economic growth. “It undercuts productivity, spending, and investment, stunting national growth. It contributes to inequality and spurs social tension,” says the report in part.

George Wachiuri, Chief Executive Officer of Optiven Limited says that many companies do not create jobs because they do not have any idea of expansion of the businesses. “It is because they are comfortable,” he stated.

This is why the company started Good to Great (G2G) Program where we they hold workshops to train promising entrepreneurs crucial aspects of business including hiring the right people, keeping records among others. “We teach them to ensure that they have the right people in the bus, and that these ‘passengers’ occupy the right seats,” Wachiuri stressed. The first G2G workshop will be held on March 4, 2016.

Another reason that many young entrepreneurs do not succeed, he added, is because they fail to hire experts to handle areas that they (the entrepreneurs) lack expertise. And with the rising number of graduates from Kenyan universities, Wachiuri believes that these experts are readily available.

Optiven has secured a revolving fund that will be given to top 20 entrepreneurs who will have outstanding business ideas. We will have a space for them for one year where we will mentor them and link them up to the right financiers. “These young people only need some bit of training, mentorship and the right attitude. They just need a little pushing and they will find their way to their entrepreneurship dream,” Wachiuri says, adding that one of the young people that the company is mentoring has already employed 30 people in his hygiene products company. Another young man has employed seven people.

The CEO of Optiven believes that by mentoring young people, the country will reduce unemployment by half. He, however, faults Kenya’s education system, saying it is time that learning institutions partnered and consulted with the employers so that they may properly prepare their graduates in the right way.

He further advises young people to take advantage of devolution and stick to the counties. “There are so many opportunities in the counties that young people can take advantage of, as entrepreneurs.”

Wachiuri disclosed that Optiven is committed to deliver its vision of spearheading youth unemployment. So far, the company has employed over 100 permanent staff and has 78 vacancies across departments. “Success for us is not the profits that we make but the impact that we make in the lives of our employees as well as through charity activities. Our vision is intentional and that is why we give 5% of our revenue to the Optiven Foundation.

Currently, Optiven Foundation is in the process of selecting 20 needy students for Secondary School full sponsorship. These will add to the current 60 students that the Foundation is supporting in Kitui, Kisumu, Nyeri and Kajiado.


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