The social cost of frustrated youth can be high, but Barclays has a plan.
In most nations, a large youthful population would be viewed as an economic blessing. Here in Kenya, the youth make up at least seventy-five percent of the country’s total population. Nonetheless, faced with oppression and few opportunities, Kenya’s youth is wasting away.
Approximately 29% of all new HIV infections in Kenya are among adolescents and youth. Also, mental health challenges, lack of job opportunities and rising poverty levels are some of the many other headaches that have routinely haunted the members of this age group.
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The few who are lucky enough to land employment opportunities have complained about low-quality jobs or underemployment. Skills mismatch among the youth is also another underlying cancer according to audit firm PWC.
Further, the lack of opportunities in the country has been exacerbated by a demographic boom plus various economic imbalances. For instance, the country’s tertiary institutions are now producing more graduates than the available job opportunities.
These vices combined now threatened to dim the lights of the youth’s future. For them, there is little or no reason to be optimistic.
The social cost of alienated, disappointed and frustrated youth can be very high considering that they are expected to be the dominant workforce over the next few years.
But how can the youth remain buoyant in the midst of a rising tide that is economic vices and uncertainties? It is a question that the country is failing to answer. For a majority of their problems, the youth mostly blame the government, and while they may be rightful in doing so, no single government can tackle this alone.
The solution may rest in the hands of corporations that have adopted sustainable practices.
Mr. Jeremy Awori, Managing Director of Barclays Kenya says that business leaders and their corporations can develop relevant solutions that can be commercialized to drive long-term profitability, while benefiting communities and more so the Youth.
Mr Awori says that youth unemployment is an issue that his organization has been keen to intervene.
To this end, Absa, the parent company to Barclays Kenya has invested significantly towards helping young people acquire quality education and transition smoothly into internships, jobs or entrepreneurship through a Ready to Work Programme that has so far impacted over 155,000 students.
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For the youth who venture into entrepreneurship, Absa is also involved in a programme that upskills SMEs through various structured programmes and also helping them access international trade opportunities. So far Absa has polished up and released back into the entrepreneurship jungle, over ten thousand small businesses.
That’s not all, the lender is further giving small businesses easier access to finance through unsecured loans to advance their businesses.
In addition to understanding the communities it operates in, Absa appears to have a sense of human empathy and with its buffet of solutions, the hearts of the youth can rest easy knowing that responsible organizations are constantly worried and thinking about their future and well-being.