Are You a Recent Graduate? Consider Self-Employment

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If you are a recent Kenyan graduate or through with your coursework and waiting for graduation I must congratulate you for coming this far. It not only a privilege but an honor that you can be counted among University graduates in Kenya.

It is undeniable though, that many graduates feel not so confident about their hard-earned degrees because of the skyrocketing levels of unemployment in Kenya today.  Of more concern is the fact our Universities are less focused on a learning system that encourage students to be researchers and entrepreneurs. Most of their learning systems are based on theory and lecture jargons at the expense of research-based learning that encourages students to be researchers, innovative and think out of the box.

Four years down the line, one comes out with a paper giving them the power to read and write and do what appertains to that particular BSc. or B.A degree but not so much to fit in a job marketplace. Many employers will confess that a particular candidate, though well-learned as their papers show, lack self-confidence, communicates poorly, has no career goals and cannot transform class learned material into real-life situations.

Such scenarios are not uncommon. It’s pathetic that a person with a low-level education such as Diploma but vast experience tends to have an upper hand when it comes to employment, compared to a recent graduate. This is not to say that graduates come out of college half-baked. Most employers usually look for the experience which the graduate may be lacking at that particular point in time. Unfortunately enough, the graduate is not equipped and groomed to venture into entrepreneurship. What transpires is several cases of a graduate moving from one office to the other with no possibility of finding employment.

A study reveals that it takes an average of 5 years for a graduate to get employed in Kenya. Recently,  a job posting was circulated through social media and thousands must have been on it sending applications and hoping to get considered. Interestingly, enough, the post had been send and resend all over till I also resend it to a friend who had sent it earlier to me. That clearly tells you the job desperation that recent graduates are going through right now.

Here is the job posting that was circulated via WhatsApp

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Currently, many graduates have resorted to online writing jobs as a way to cushion themselves from the biting unemployment levels. One such graduate was surprised to learn that she was a long time neighbor to another coursemate of hers who was living in the same neighborhood doing online jobs. Indeed, online writing jobs have become the order of the day as more and more unemployed youth continue to make a living through this new found oasis of online work.

Many seem to be doing well with online jobs, however, this should only be a means to an end. There is much you could still do online such as drop shipping, opening your own commercial blog or website, starting a freelance writing business or a blog on a particular niche.

According to Business Fundamentals, a book compiled by Global Text Project, if you think that you were not cut out to be an entrepreneur, you are wrong. Many were shunned and told they would amount to nothing but they went on to become very great entrepreneurs. To cut the story short, entrepreneurs are not born but made. The book mentions particular marks of an entrepreneur which sum up the mindset of an entrepreneur. These include:

  • Vision: Ability to create and communicate an easily understandable mission for what your new venture does in order to successfully launch a new business. This is accomplished while inspiring others to join you in your new enterprise.
  • Creativity: Ability to inject imagination and uniqueness into a new business venture. It takes skill and ingenuity to create a new venture equipped with strategies to outsmart the competition.
  • Focus: Able to maintain the vision of the company with unwavering diligence. It’s very easy to get sidetracked especially if you find it necessary to evolve the original vision. Ironically, we have encountered many successful entrepreneurs who get bored easily.
  • Passion: Desiring to succeed under your own steam [initiative] on a business venture.
  • Drive: Possessing intrinsic energy to accomplish the business goal even in the face of adversity.
  • Perseverance: Able to keep going even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  • Opportunistic Nature sees the possibilities even before they exist. Can take advantage of an upcoming trend or unite unrelated processes to create a unique business venture.
  • Problem Solving Ability: Thrives on coming up with solutions to complex challenges.
  • Self-discipline: Able to be organized and regimented in pursuit of a successful business venture.
  • Frugality: Knows how to stretch every cent so that expenditures are as low as possible.
  • Empathy: Able to put yourself in another’s shoes and therefore able to show sensitivity and understanding of what others are communicating in the startup environment.
  • Social Responsibility: Ethics, caring, and humanitarianism are characteristics that are commonly found in today’s entrepreneurs.
  • Spirituality: We have found that successful entrepreneurs have often devoted time to spirituality development. Meditation and positive affirmations are two common examples of spirituality.
  • Good Timing: Able to identify a market opportunity and know when it’s the optimum time to launch a new venture or expansion of an existing enterprise.

You are the only limit to what you can do. Sheryl Sandberg says it all in her quote that we hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.

With the current employment status in Kenya, Kenya needs visionary entrepreneurs who will rise up to the occasion and begins startups and ventures that will transform Kenya’s economic landscape thereby creating more jobs and making life economically better for Kenyans.

 

Quandary of a Young Kenyan Graduate.

 

James Karagu, commonly known in close circles as Jemo, is a recent graduate from an institution of higher learning in Kenya; having pursued BSc. Statistics. Before finishing college and graduating James was upbeat about getting a job and being a respected man in society. Apparently, back then in campus, he was dating a beautiful woman from central Kenya by the nickname shiro. They were looking forward to get married immediately they completed their studies.

After their graduation, the two love birds parted ways with full of promises to one another to keep in touch and always make a point of meeting often. His girlfriend Shiro studied Journalism and Mass communication and looked forward to be a journalist with a reputable media company.

Jemo left for the city, Nairobi while Shiro left for central Kenya in Nyeri. However, after graduation and the joy of finishing school, all was not rosy as they had both anticipated. On arriving in the city, James settled at a friend’s place that was kind enough to accommodate him. His friend had finished college two years earlier and was making quite some good money in the city out of hawking. The money he earned could pay his rent, buy food and pay bills and afford extra coins to save and also sent to his mama upcountry.

 

Surprisingly, James friend, had studied Biochemistry back in college; but after “tarmacking” and job-hunting for one and half years, he resolved to be his own boss and give self-employment a try. Lucky for James, he had a friend who could shelter him as he went about in search of jobs. Every morning, James would wake up as early as 6.am but not as early as his friend who wakes up at 5 am to go about his business.

James would wake up, take a shower, neatly press his shirt and trouser and add on a blue tie compounded with shiny black shoes and head out in such of a job. He had drafted a mind- blowing CV, prepared academic certificates and any other arsenal that would sell him to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, her girlfriend Shiro, had tried her luck too in getting a job. Lucky for her, she secured a well-paying internship with a local radio station in Nyeri.They kept in touch with James as  two people who love one another usually do.

On the contrary, James was getting frustrated by the day. Some of his job applications went unanswered, and the future looked gloom and dark. His close friend was also beginning to feel the heat of hosting a jobless graduate.

Unemployment 1

One Monday morning, instead of heading out for the routine job- hunting, James chose to sit around and reflect upon his actions. He pondered at length whether searching for a job was worthwhile given the high number of graduates who were also hunting for jobs. He looked at his close friend and realized he was not formally employed with a white collar job and salary yet could make ends meet. James realized in that moment of reflection, a job was simply a temporal solution to a permanent problem. He needed to do something quick and fast going forward to be economically viable. A torrent of ideas started flowing into Jame’s head. Instantly and simultaneously, he thought of hawking, car washing, freelancing, blogging, mitumba (second-hand clothes) business.

After much deliberation, James opted to run a blog, given he had a laptop and could afford bundles for internet connection. However, that was never to start soon since James faced quite a number of options to prioritize from. Firstly, a financial firm had offered him a job with a pay  little less than what his hawker friend was taking home (ksh.35,000).The firm promised him room for career development, allowances and other benefits.

Enterpreneur

Secondly, his girlfriend from campus was getting restless and wanted James to make up his mind whether they were wasting time together in the name of love or what James was thinking about. Thirdly, an uncle of James back in the village had called him, and he wanted James to travel upcountry so that he could work as a cashier in his mini-supermarket. These options all presented themselves to John at the same time frame. It became quite difficult for John to know what path he should follow.

When his hawker friend, arrived back at home from an exhaustive working day, he found his friend James, frustrated and confused. James was spoilt for choice and did not know what was best for him.

Nevertheless, his friend was always there for him when he needed a sense of direction. James friend advised him to choose what was best for him at the time. In other words, James was told to put his priorities right. The conversation from the two men went for hours on end amidst short call breaks and water sippage to quench dry throats.

Unfortunately many graduates in Kenya today are in no position to make choices they wish they could make but only take what is given.

unemployment 2

On the contrary, all is not lost for young Kenyan graduates because James friend is a shining star against high rates of unemployment in Kenya today.

 

 

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