Social enterprises are organizations that use the marketplace and business to create social, economic, environmental and cultural value.
Kenyans, especially those from slum areas and those with meager earnings, are increasingly taking up this new form of business in order to supplement their small earnings.
For those starting any of these emerging ventures it is perhaps less like starting a not for profit organization and more like starting a small business . It is, however, steadily gaining momentum not only in academia but also for investors and foundations. Many of these entities are less willing to give handouts, and more inclined to invest in job creation for sustainable growth.
The job market in Kenya is highly competitive. Kenya‘s population is nearly 42 million people, with youth forming a large part of this number. Even as the economy improves with a steady growth, if you are young and unemployed, your future remains bleak. With the unemployment rate resting at 40%, the youth still feel disillusioned and their prospects of work slim. Thousands of graduates every year flood the job market, competing with others in the same profession for jobs at the same place, making the chances become thinner.
Peter, a graduate, lays the blame on the government: ‘Education system has to change in line with the job market demand,dwelling on outdated curriculum systems is a waste of time and resources,there needs to be a total overhaul on the system’, he ascertains.
The big question remains: For how long are we going to sit and wait as we play blame games on who is to do what for what to happen?
Kenyans appreciate the different groups of creative innovators in Kibera, who have gone beyond the odds to make ends meet and at the same time empower others to follow lead.
Slum tourism is one of those ventures picking up steadily, the benefits are not only meant for the guide or company but also to the entire community. For instance, through this, besides creating jobs for the guides, we have seen a growth in education and health sectors among others. With a large population of about 7000 people in a 2.5 square kilometer area, the majority being of school age, cannot all be accommodated in the three public schools available in Kibera. Through such programs as tourism, we have seen well-wishers start up schools for orphanages in partnership with the community. Besides, we have religious, missionary and many emerging NGO schools with the aim of alleviating the education standards.
The same applies to health. Most health centers in Kibera are non-governmental based, which give services to the community at a close to nothing cost.
Amsha is a fashion and accessories brand made by talented artisans from Kibera, Pieces are made from recycled and upcycled materials. The highly talented and skilled artisans make jewelry from recycled bone materials, paper, brass and clay, among others. Most of the artisans come from humble backgrounds, did not attend school or dropped halfway, while others are graduates who couldn’t secure jobs and resorted to such work.
As it is said, creativity is the mother of invention, quite a number of variety of beautiful products are produced, which not only earns the artisans a living but also plays a major role in environmental conservation by reducing waste.
Carolyn, the leader of six HIV positive women, working with Amsha, makes African jewelry from recycled and found materials. She says that since she could not acquire a job based on her status and the unavailability of jobs, she opted to form a group with other women with the same status and have something to do for a living.
Ojiko is a focused and happy looking guy from Kibera. In his mid-
thirties, he has been doing brass work for more than seven years, Although he didn’t have the privilege to attend school, his artistic designs of brass work have earned him a solid reputation. Through this work, he has been able to secure new equipment to grow his working capacity, as well as employ more community members to work with him.
With the emergence of social enterprise and more Kenyans empowering others with skills, this trend can be a path from poverty, unemployment blame games, aid to self-sustaining alternatives through available basic means.