Unemployment is a major problem facing the country. A bigger percentage of graduates are churned into the job market every year to jostle for available yet inadequate white collar employment slots.
Against this backdrop, a group of youths in Kisumu county have found hope in self-employment.
Andrewnicko Ondoro, the proprietor of Shadoro cybercafé in Ahero township, says he has no regrets becoming an entrepreneur.
The former monitoring and evaluation officer is among many young people locally leading the frontier in championing the uptake of self-employment.
Shadoro enterprise, largely known for garment printing, also offers general cyber and computer maintenance services. It has employed four young people as attendants.
“The business looks promising and we have experienced growth in our revenues especially after the introduction of the new design and printing models. Schools and other established public entities are our main clients,” he said.
His passion for the business developed while he was still engaged at a local health facility as an evaluation staff.
He later actualised his dreams by starting the enterprise after his contract was terminated in 2018.
Ondoro opened the cyber cafe with one printer before adding two others as the client base expanded gradually.
Another youthful entrepreneur Boniface Ooko is successfully running a cybercafé after his dreams to pursue further education diminished due to lack of fees.
Ooko, 31, was inspired to start a cybercafé in 2014, five years after completing secondary school education.
He took a short computer training course in 2009 before getting employed as a cybercafé attendant.
“I teamed up with a colleague I worked with at a different cybercafé and pioneered the enterprise together,” recalls the proprietor of Matrix cybercafé located at Sondu township.
The skillful entrepreneurs made progress after receiving capacity building and financial support from dijITali, a social enterprise that addresses youth unemployment through digital inclusion.
The organisation is inspiring youths in business as part of intervention to bridge the unemployment gap locally.
Founded in April 2020, dijITali supports over 430 digital centres that are the network members in 45 counties through capacity building, asset financing and creation of income earning opportunities.
It also assists the network of the centres in upskilling through regular training to be able to grow in business.
The centres are owned and run by young people aged between 20 and 38. They also offer internships for students on computer training.
To join the network, an applicant must be a cybercafé owner, been in operation for more than six months and has at least three computers at a premise.
The operators will undergo capacity building through trainings on digital printing, general cybercafé operations and business management.
They will also be part of djITali network, where they will get regular training on cybercafé business management.
Additionally, they receive asset financing support for purchase of printers and printing machines. They are not given funds in cash.
“Our support is geared towards supporting digital centres to increase and diversify their revenues by tapping into new opportunities, and therefore create employment.
We also work with business-to-business clients keen on expanding their footprint or capacity into rural and peri-urban areas where we have a wide distribution,” said Tania Ngima, dijITali managing director.
Ngima says her organisation’s projects, funded through internal revenue and partner contributions, seek to empower digital businesses in the country to tackle unemployment.
So far, it has helped centres create and retain over 100 jobs since the rollout of the programme a year ago.
“We found the digital centres were an avenue that had not been exploited. From our research, it was established that they are predominantly run by youth who are the enablers on the ground,” she explained.
Ooko says the enterprise has recorded a financial breakthrough especially following its expansion that culminated in the introduction of more sophisticated printers and design machines.
“The business has been on a growth path since we got into the partnership with dijiTali. We plough back much of the earnings to keep afloat,” he said.
Matrix cybercafé has engaged two other attendants. The businessman blames the high rate of unemployment among the youth to little passion for self-employment.
“The young generation should shift focus to pursue technical training opportunities that will lead them to entrepreneurship.
They should try to gain skills not only for employment but to venture into their own businesses,” he says.
For Donnie Otieno, 30, an attendant at Shadoro cybercafé, the enterprise has played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of the young generation through capacity building initiatives.
“We have managed to acquire new skills on some aspects of the business we were not engaged in before,” he said, urging the youth to go for opportunities that will propel them to be job creators and not seekers.
“Youths must be open minded in shaping their future. They need to take self-employment as a better option,” he says in conclusion.