As Kenya joined the world in marking Labor Day on Wednesday, among those who were being celebrated in the east African nation for creating jobs are young people.
The young people, some informal workers while others businesspersons, are creating jobs by starting businesses in various sectors that include agriculture, transport, hospitality, housing and carpentry.
The businesses have become key in offering employment to thousands of people who are jobless, therefore, boosting incomes in a country where formal jobs have become scarcer.
Fred Ajwang, a resident of Busia in western Kenya, is among young people who have created jobs for fellow youths.
The businessman has eight motorbikes and runs a spare parts and repair shop in the district that borders Uganda.
“I have 11 workers in total who I have employed directly and others that I hire on casual basis when need arises,” said Ajwang on phone.
The businessman has agreed with the riders that they give him 400 shillings (4 U.S. dollars) each day, from the average 8 dollars they make daily as they traverse the rural areas of the populous region.
“I take it with pride this Labor Day that I have created jobs for my fellow youths,” said the 38-year-old.
“My plan is to come up with even more because there are hundreds who are unemployed and any job makes a difference in their lives,” he added.
Caleb Karuga, a former journalist, who farms in Kajiado County, provides employment for close to 30 people on his fish, vegetables and poultry farms, a majority of them women.
According to him, women generally provide the most reliable labor on the farm as compared to men, and this is because they are better organized.
“Women provide arguably the most reliable labor on the farm given that most men love the bottle,” said Karuga, who quit journalism to farm.
At his carpentry workshop in Kayole on the east of Nairobi, Bernard Oloo employs five people directly and several others that include taxi and push cart operators indirectly.
“I went into business after working for an Indian family that was also engaging in carpentry for years. I used the skills I gained from them to start the business four years ago,” said Oloo, 36, who makes couches, dining tables, wall units, beds and TV stands, among other furniture.
Such businesses run by young people, some in white collar jobs while others in businesses, are replicated across the east African nation, making the youth some of the biggest job creators.
The Economic Survey 2018 released last week shows that the number of persons engaged outside small-scale agriculture and pastoralist activities rose from 16.9 million in 2017 to 17.8 million in 2018.
Some 762,200 jobs were created in the informal sector last year, down from 795,000 jobs the previous year, with the decline attributed to expiry of hired temporary workers services by the electoral commission during the 2017 polls.
On the contrary, the formal sector created 78,400 jobs compared to 114,400 jobs in 2017, with the decline attributed to poor performance in the private sector.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics notes that at least 7 million Kenyans are unemployed, out of the number, 70 percent are the youth (KNBS).
Out of the informal jobs created in 2018, agriculture contributed 336,000 jobs, followed by manufacturing at 310,000 jobs.
Agriculture is the principle employer in Kenya, where millions are engaged either as workers or farmers, a good number of them young people.
Besides agriculture, other activities offering informal jobs include forestry and fishing, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles, according to KNBS.
Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy, noted that more youth are taking up agriculture more than before, not only on the farm but across the value chain.
“Some youths are in value addition, others are offering cold chain services while some are transporters or consultants like myself. I have employed two agronomists who help me work with farmers. The youth have the capacity to alleviate the country’s job crisis if given opportunity, finance and they get favorable policies,” said the 29-year-old.