Decent work and economic growth are vital pillars toward attaining a sustainable future. Today’s world faces a significant barrier to achieving this sustainable development goal, unemployment. It is a menace that has societal repercussions that go beyond merely financial. Unemployment causes wastage of investments made in training and education, financial worries leading to mental health issues, and income inequality. This affects most sectors in any government as it pushes youth to higher crime, drug and substance abuse. Gross Domestic Product is lowered as government’s expenses extend beyond the payment of benefits due to low production.
Kenya is currently ranks highest in unemployment rate in the East Africa region, according to a recent study by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The unemployment rate has escalated to nearly four out of every ten young people with the necessary qualifications are unemployed. It is demolorising university students at an alarming rate since governments have done little to stop the situation from worsening. The repercussions of unemployment and the relationship between job creation and economic growth are a matter that cannot be ignored. University students are taking matters into their own hands to counter the worsening situation.
A group of university students at Egerton University decided to go a step further and counter unemployment by creating their own company while still pursuing their studies. Started in 2013, Comrade dairy and food enterprises is bridging the unemployment gap by bringing innovations in the agriculture sector. They collect milk from farmers and add value to the product, producing yogurt and sour milk. They resell it minimizing post-harvest loss by over 50%. The enterprise brags four permanent employees who are still students at the university: two pursue food science while the other two pursue animal science.
Moses Owino, the enterprise’s sales manager, saw the threat of luring unemployment and said they could not wait for the disaster to happen. They came together as students and today they are impacting the society by buying milk from local farmers at a better price. “We did not want to fall into the unemployment dragnet after school. So we decided to pursue this other course.” he said “We were also surprised that institutions were willing to come on board and offer us the necessary assistance we needed. Today we are happy to have been enrolled by Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) into their Agribiz program and we look forward to more success.”
With the unemployment rate worsening every passing day, youth and women need to develop innovative ideas. In an era of a pandemic, weakening economy, political instability, and widespread income disparity, the issue can only aggravate. The private and public sectors also need to come up with endless ways of addressing the situation. Public employment programs, assigning job creation policies, and forging partnerships for scaling up investments are just some of the ways the sectors can adopt and end the never-ending menace.