Out of the 850,000 jobs that were created in our country last year, 83 percent were from the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) segment. MSMEs are found in various fields of the economy including agriculture, information and communications technology (ICT), retail business, food and beverages as well as transport among others. Significantly, MSMEs offer employment opportunities to the youth graduating from universities and tertiary institutions, besides form four and standard eight leavers. Only a few of these youth are able to secure white collar jobs in the formal economy.
Over the years, the number of unemployed youth in the country has been growing at a very fast rate, giving the government a lot of challenges. Rather than keep on applying for jobs in the formal sector that are not forthcoming, these young people have been encouraged to embrace entrepreneurship. To that end, a lot of programmes in both the public and private sectors on entrepreneurship have been rolled out.
Nevertheless, starting a business and nurturing it to success is not a walk in the park. Various studies have established that most businesses go under at the start-up stage. It is at that early stage that entrepreneurs grapple with challenges like shortage of capital, inability to access market and poor cash flow. A majority of them therefore throw in the towel. Whereas the government is keen on having many businesses being formalized upon attaining the necessary growth so that they can generate revenue to the exchequer through taxation, that can only happen if they are able to survive the gruelling start-up stage.
It is against this background that we applaud the Government of Kenya and the World Bank for coming up with the ongoing ten week online competition – MbeleNaBiz. The winners of this competition will receive handsome grants that they shall inject in their start-ups in order to accelerate their growth (See this story on page 24). Given our close working relationship with young entrepreneurs over the years, we have no doubt that this is a step in the right direction. May the best young entrepreneurs emerge victorious