Youth unemployment is at an all time high globally. With an Increased population, space and resources are harder to come by, let alone share – this includes jobs. Today while higher education may give someone a leg up, it is not a guarantee. The sage old advice that was driven into us by our parents of “work hard, study hard and you’ll get a job” is no longer true for everyone – or in fact even a lot of people.
In Kenya youth unemployment has risen to 22.2 percent, significantly higher than Tanzania (5.2%) and Uganda (4%). And Kenya’s youth have had enough. Tired of waiting to be hired, Kenya has seen a rise in entrepreneurs for anything from establishing small businesses, advancements in the technology industry, art, music to the increase in young bodaboda operators. Youths are taking their futures in their hands.
One organization that is helping to promote an entrepreneurial mindset is BLAZE. Launched by Safaricom, BLAZE is an entrepreneurship reality show that features 12 young contestants. Over a period of eight weeks, they are evaluated on their business skills, how they navigate crafted challenges, stimulated real life situations and work with mentors and brands.
While the aim of the series is to crown an overall winner who takes home a grand prize of SH5Million (SH3million in start -up capital as well as mentorship, financial advice and support from Safaricom and other partners), the effect of the show goes further than that.
Today, most media consumed by youth often shows lavish lifestyles, expensive possessions – basically the showing off of wealth, or at least the appearance of it. Most reality TV shows either show how celebrities live, or the lives of those willing to do anything (often degrading) to reach the celebrity lifestyle. We are bombarded daily with the “ideal goal” to reach with no idea of how to get there.
BLAZE stands out because, while yes its contestants may achieve a certain level of notoriety, for a time at least, it is the skills they learn on the show that is important. They are not taught how to be famous or even how to be rich, but how to be successful. The aim of BLAZE isn’t to create influencers but entrepreneurs, business men and women who will not only improve their lives but will contribute to the economy of Kenya. Create one successful entrepreneur you have the opportunity to create jobs. Still, just the mere fact that millions are being locked out of this "big thing" is quite a huge loss to anyone with a business idea above the age of 26 who in disregard is still referred to as a youth.
With an entrepreneurial business success of about 10 percent success rate globally, more effort and a keen eye needs to be put on youth. While the specific statistics are tough to nail down, on entrepreneurship, it's widely reported that the majority of new businesses fail, many citing a 90 percent or more failure rate within five years. The good thing with BYOB is that they train and nature you even after you open your business investment.
Youth unemployment is at a high yes, but by inspiring and supporting young entrepreneurs with organizations like BLAZE, we may start seeing that number decrease.