Africa is full of contradictions. We are resource-rich, but have the highest number of the world’s poor. We have nearly unlimited potential of solar capacity, abundant hydro and wind energy, but the majority are still in the dark.
Another contradiction is in livelihoods. Unemployment continues to rise, but jobs are there and employers many. Lack of employment opportunities is a debunkable myth!
Allow me to unpack this using the example of Kenya’s many jobless university graduates, and the numerous Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Both have problems that they can solve for each other. Let’s begin with the youth. The graduates complete university but enter a saturated market, where finding employment is difficult. For MSMEs, their problems are more layered. First, they cannot access financing because they lack the formalisation that makes them eligible for loans.
Banks are unable to gauge the creditworthiness of MSMEs due to the absence of financial and business records.
Thus, they charge higher interest rates and collateral. On average, three in every four MSME loan applications are rejected, some for minor technical shortcomings that can simply be remedied through capacity building.
So although MSMEs generate the highest number of new jobs, they face an acute challenge in translating this potential into capital.
MSMEs lack entrepreneurial and managerial skills, a major cause for business failure. So what is the solution to the unemployed graduate’s problem? Broker symbiotic relationships between MSMEs and the graduates.
This model is about connecting the dots. Just like the ancient art of matchmaking that brought people together based on compatibility.
University graduates trained in marketing, accounting and law can fill the gaps experienced by the MSMEs to take their businesses to the next level. But even better, this arrangement can be funded.
The cost of hiring the graduates can be initially funded through either grants or investment financing because it is sustainable and bankable.
American inventor Thomas Edison once said that most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Brokering a symbiotic relationship between MSMEs and unemployed graduates is an opportunity that will take work, but bear remarkable dividends.
-The writer is CEO Apprentice Job Africa. [email protected]
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