Monday, January 4, 2010

Entrepreneurship - Kenya's Economic Saviour

By Jeconia Omondi Olonde

The current economic condition for Kenya is on a down hill while the population growth rate is quite high. This implies there is an increase in unemployment as the new jobs created cannot match the increase in population. A situation is created where the youth are finishing university, college and secondary school expecting to be employed yet the economy cannot accommodate them. This will in the end bring social instability especially with the high cost of education.

But what can the government and the private sectors do to help alleviate the situation that may bring the country to its knees? An initiative such as the Kazi Kwa Vijana was started by the government and has ended as a failure, taking the country back to the maze. The Kazi Kwa Vijana could not have been sustained as we can say the jobs given to them “do not add value” to the economy and the government is spending a huge amount of money in paying recurrent expenses. Also some of the jobs given may seem demeaning to some of the unemployed graduates. Telling an engineering graduate to clean trenches shows that the government has no plans for its citizens who are meant to be assets.

Further, unemployment situations in Kenya have been increased by the high requirements by employers in order to get jobs. Requirement of years of professional experience for jobs in Kenya has made it difficult for the fresh graduates to get jobs and their Kenyan dream of finding that dream job after years of education.

For the country to be able to create employment, the government and the private sector should highly consider embracing entrepreneurship as a source of expanding the economy and reducing poverty. With the shift towards technology, the government can use the youth to enhance and come up with new technologies which will help accelerate growth and achieve Vision 2030.

Some of the ways in which the government can do to help youth embrace entrepreneurship are:
  • Providing financial assistance and guidance. Many youth have good business ideas but translating these to actual jobs is hindered by lack of knowledge of transforming ideas into feasible and tangible work. Also financial guidance on how to spend the initial finance is necessary as the projected financial statements are is not enough, for example, purchasing of essential assets, marketing and branding, establishing of internal business controls, and book keeping.
  • Providing mentors to the youth who come up with good business ideas or proposals. The mentors are used to guide the youth especially through the tough times as they have been in the business before and they know what to do best in such situations.
  • Introducing entrepreneurship as a subject in schools so that the students are able to know early enough how to start their own businesses and succeed. Mentality of students has to be changed from them expecting employment for them to create employment. This should be done for both students in professional courses and those in vocational training. In the earlier years, it was preached in radio stations and songs that at the end of education one will get a good job and this mentality has stuck in the mind of the population. We should therefore start changing the minds of people with regards to this.
  • Providing tax incentives for young entrepreneurs who provide employment to others. There are difficulties involved with business start ups and therefore the government should recognize this effort by giving the youth tax incentives. This has been done to Export Processing Zones (EPZs) to attract foreign direct investments. Local investments should also be considered important as this brings more stimulus to growth as there are no profit flights.
  • Patenting of special business ideas created by the young people. This may reduce the chances of the ideas being stolen by other capable individuals or by corporations. Good ideas are known to have been submitted to “wrong” organizations which take advantage of the weak protection laws of ideas. These weak laws demoralize the young people with brilliant ideas who may opt to stay with the ideas for long until they are able to finance themselves. Developed countries are known to have proper laws protecting ideas created by its citizens and developing countries should follow suit.
These are only some of the things the government should take into consideration if it has to help the country become entrepreneurial. The effect of citizens creating job opportunities in the economy cannot be over emphasized and the government has to act fast to improve the livelihood of its citizens.

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