Blog Post

17 Jul
By: Ferdinand Musungu 0

WHAT ARE THE PATHWAYS TO YOUTH RESILIENCE NOW THAT COVID-19 IS WITH US?

The Kenyan government, KEPSA, and other partners continue to initiate projects aimed at discovering and highlighting new opportunities for Kenyan youth beyond traditional channels and equipping them with the skills they need to be competitive.

As part of this year’s World Youth Skills Day, which also comes at a difficult time in the country, this article seeks to explore some of the available opportunities for Kenyan youth to earn a living beyond traditional employment channels.

The World Youth Skills Day is a United Nations project in partnership with private organizations and educational institutions. It aims to highlight the need to equip youth across the world with the skills they need to secure employment or explore available entrepreneurship channels.  

This year, World Youth Skills Day comes at a time when youth across the world are facing a bigger challenge in the form of a global pandemic on top of other problems such as unemployment and poverty.

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Need to Embrace Change in the Job Market

It is said, “When in doubt, choose change.” With Kenya and the rest of the world reeling from the adverse effects of a pandemic, it’s gradually becoming a reality that adaptation is the way to go. As a country, we have gone through incredible economic upheavals in the past. But non like what we are facing today. Thousands of Kenyans have either lost their jobs or have had to close their businesses for one reason or the other.

There is no clear indication of when we might be able to return to what could be considered normal; in fact, some would say this is the new normal. The human spirit to survive dictates that adaptation is the only way to overcome uncertainty.  Couple this natural survival instinct with Kenyan youth’s unique abilities as entrepreneurs and go-getters, and we might find a way out of what we face with Covid-19.

From shifting to E-commerce and take away services, online jobs, and tapping into the vibrant gig economy, social media selling to mobile kiosks; these are some of the avenues some enterprising youth entrepreneurs have turned to in light of the current business environment.

There are indeed, numerous ways to create new, better jobs in an economy as vibrant as ours. Here are some of them:

Online Job Opportunities for Kenyan Youth

Despite the high unemployment rates in the country, Kenya also happens to have one of the most educated and skilled youth population in the continent. For instance, the 2019 EF EPI (Education First English Proficiency Index) ranked Kenya at position 18 out of 100 in the world on English proficiency. Interestingly, this ranking puts us above several European and developed countries where English is taught or spoken from an early age.

The fact that we have highly skilled and educated youth means that our youth can also compete in the global marketplace by taking up online jobs alongside other freelancers from all over the world. Indeed, despite the challenges we have faced and continue to go through today, the local online/freelancing economy continues to expand every other day as more Kenyan youth discover online working opportunities.

Here are some of the online job opportunities still available for Kenyan youth in the current environment:

Content/Article Writing

An already mature and popular online earning channel, content, or article writing involves creating original content for online employers and getting paid for it.  This is, by far, the best and most popular online earning channel for Kenyan youth, given the number of unemployed university-educated youth in the country.

Transcription

This is another online job market that attracts a lot of Kenyan youth and employers alike. In transcription, one is tasked with transforming audio recordings into written text. There are shining examples of transcriptionists in Kenya who have managed to build a career out of it.   

Virtual Assistants

These are trained online workers that handle everything for remote employers, including digital marketing, scheduling, calendar management, communication, design, among other tasks. VAs need to be all-rounded individuals with a solid work ethic and ability to learn on the job.

The above are just some of the most popular online job opportunities for Kenyan youth. However, there are literally thousands of other services with a ready market in various remote working platforms, among them:

  • Freelance web design
  • Bookkeeping and Accounting
  • CAD design and other engineering-related design services
  • Telemarketing
  • Data entry, data scraping research
  • Copywriting
  • Social media management and marketing
  • Translation services
  • Ghostwriting
  • Dropshipping
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Video captioning
  • Video editing
  • Graphic design and photo editing
  • Among others.

E-Commerce- Opportunities in the digital economy

E-commerce is not a new thing in Kenya. However, it’s only in the past few years that Kenyan consumers and sellers started warming up to the idea of buying and selling online. The power of E-commerce also came to the limelight as soon Covid-19 became a national issue.

In light of the recent developments, Kenyan youths and businesses could benefit a lot from the digital economy by moving their operations to available E-commerce platforms or coming up with their own. Unknown to a number of Kenyans, popular E-commerce platforms such as Jumia, Jiji, and Kilimall rely on individual or existing retailers and importers.  

Moving to the digital economy would undoubtedly help most traditional brick and mortar businesses to thrive and retain some of the jobs being lost in the current environment. For those who are already on these platforms, this is the perfect opportunity for them to capitalize on an expanding market by advertising and expanding their product offerings.

Some E-Commerce and Digital Economy Platforms in Kenya

Jumia (https://www.jumia.co.ke/)

The largest E-commerce platform in Kenya, Jumia allows third-party sellers to list their merchandise on their platform. They even provide training and resources for Kenyans interested in selling or promoting products listed on the platform.  

Uber Eats (https://www.ubereats.com/ke)

A product of the popular ride-sharing platform, Uber eats allows third party food vendors such as restaurants, cafes, and take away services to reach their clients wherever they are. The service has seen a spike in daily orders during Covid-19. It would certainly provide a lifeline for businesses in the food sector.

Kilimall (https://www.kilimall.co.ke/)

Another popular E-commerce platform in Kenya that works similar to Jumia. Kilimall also allows third party sellers to list and sell their products online.

Cheki (https://www.cheki.co.ke/)

A platform that allows Kenyan vehicle sellers to connect to buyers in the country.  Sellers can list vehicles they would like to sell on the platform at no cost.  With most offline sales taking a hit, showroom owners could move their marketing and sales to the digital economy through this and other platforms.

Facebook Marketplace (https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/)

In the last few years, Facebook has become one of the most preferred E-commerce platforms for Kenyan entrepreneurs. There is immense potential on Facebook for businesses and individual sellers looking to market and sell their products and services.

Exploring New Markets

Covid-19 has forced many countries and commercial entities to reevaluate existing commercial channels. This presents a new opportunity for Kenyan businesses, youth entrepreneurs, and educated professionals to explore traditionally untapped or those dominated by other countries such as China. Indeed, there is intense debate around the world about diversifying and moving away from traditional commercial channels that proved disastrous in the heat of the pandemic.

Tapping into the gig economy

An opportunity lies in the job market for unemployed youth and workers now left without jobs as part of the covid-19 layoffs. The gig economy has been gaining momentum in Kenya and around the world. It could provide a new avenue for people to generate some income, especially now that most businesses are having to put a freeze on hiring.  Unknown to most Kenyans, freelancing has always been a vibrant and important component of the Kenyan economy.

From an HR perspective, Kenyan businesses should now start looking at how they can take advantage of an already established gig economy to get the much-needed expertise in light of the current job market. Among many benefits, the gig economy does help businesses to reduce staffing overheads and get the best talent whenever they need it.

New opportunities for Kenyan youth entrepreneurs

Despite the pandemic, it has been observed that small and medium-sized businesses, especially in the informal sector, continue to thrive.  These are the local jua kali shops, grocery stores, butcheries, retail shops, and supermarkets. This is the best time for Kenyan entrepreneurs to tap into a disrupted but still vibrant marketplace and start their businesses as opposed to seeking employment.

Indeed, as expected, enterprising Kenyans have already seen new opportunities and capitalized on them. For instance, there has been an influx of traders selling their products from the boots of their cars or doing door to door deliveries. These entrepreneurial activities will ultimately create new jobs and income streams for enterprising Kenyans despite the harsh economic times we are in.

 The government has a role to play

Times like these are when governments are called upon to play a critical role in cushioning local businesses, youth, and entrepreneurs. Indeed, the Kenyan government has, in the past few months, played a crucial role in ensuring that Kenyan businesses and unemployed youth can survive through incentives and other interventions such as the “Kazi Mitaani” initiative. However, a lot more needs to be done given the number of people that now find themselves without jobs or businesses facing closure and bankruptcy.

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