Talent Development And The Empowerment Of Kenyan Youth

I remember back in campus how eager many of us were to graduate and get our dream jobs and eventually live our dream lives. Oblivious of the reality on the ground, many of us hit down the road of tarmacking which is a phase some find too long and tedious while others are lucky to escape it by getting a job sooner after leaving campus. Most recent graduates have had to read from a similar script when it comes to tarmacking.

Employers will tell you that fresh graduates lack the hands-on experience to take up serious positions in their organizations. The situation is really sad as hundreds of thousands of graduates are chunned out every year into the job market to face the wrath of unemployment. It’s great that a couple of corporates have introduced talent searches across the country to enable them develop and mentor youth through various activities.

Youth Unemployment Situation

Youth unemployment rate in Kenya is still at staggering levels despite the government and private sector intervention. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in a survey reported that four in every ten Kenyan youths, of working age are unemployed, making it the worst in the region. Another recently concluded survey conducted in March 2017 showed that 39.1% of the Kenyan population of working age do not have jobs.

When youths are idle, they plunge into crime and other social vices, something that is not healthy for the community and the economy.

Talent Development Programs

There any many renown youth who are using their talents which has earned them respect in their different fields; from acting, football, athletics, singing to running businesses. Am usually amazed by people like Sauti Soul, Victor Wanyama, David Rudisha, Lupita Nyong’o, Humphrey Khayange who are young people who’ve used their talents to create their own success paths. All of them started from somewhere; from being identified to being nurtured until they could compete on a global stage.

Some corporates like Safaricom, EABL, Britam, Brookside and other organizations like NGOs and County governments have contributed to talent search and development through the following initiatives;

  • BLAZE BYOB

The Safaricom brand asset dubbed ‘Be Your Own Boss’ is aimed at giving the youth a platform to showcase their talents as well as empower them with knowledge and understanding to maintain and use these talents to succeed in life.

This platform doesn’t discriminate any profession unlike the normal education system that seems to regard some professions higher than others.

The first edition of BLAZE saw participating youths get access to a selection of mentors succeeding in unconventional fields, with the aim of empowering them with the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to succeed in those professions. These mentors cut across all professions, you could even see from the professional diversity of the contestants.

Having accomplished people like Caroline Mutoko, Trushar Khetia , Rabbit and being backed by Safaricom, a company that has proved to be the hub of innovations, BLAZE BYOB participants were very lucky to have the kind of support every entrepreneur dreams of.

Over 44,000 youths were in attendance through the six summits held across the country last year. 778 men and women auditioned for the BYOB TV show going through a five-stage audition process that came down to the 12 finalists.

The overall winner was 19 year old Valentine Nekesa, a designer who walked away with a total of Ksh 5 million with ksh 3 million in cash and the rest in form of mentorship and business support.

  • Tusker Project Fame

Many of us can recall the renown musical singing competition Tusker Project Fame. Some of Kenyan great singers like Amos and Josh are a result of this music show that aimed at searching and nurturing musical talent for East African youth.  The East African singing competition which ran for six seasons was sponsored by EABL. The winner of this competition went away with KES 5 million, music recording support and one year of security. Besides music, EABL has also sponsored the CECAFA football tournament, in 2010, after Tusker sponsored the 34th CECAFA tournament as the title sponsors, it was renamed the CECAFA Tusker Cup.

  • Chapa Dimba

The football Kenya Federation in partnership with Safaricom unveiled a Kshs100 million football challenge dubbed ‘Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom’.  Registration for Chapa Dimba closed in July and targeted boys and girls aged 16 – 20 years. The tournament will see  games being played countrywide from September 2017 to March 2018. Harambee Stars Captain Victor Wanyama, was also unveiled as Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom Ambassador.

The winning teams will each walk away with Kshs1 M (one million) and a trip to London in April 2018 during which they will get a chance to have mentorship sessions with Wanyama, visit a youth training camp and watch a live game.

  • Governor’s Cup

Some county governments have come up with initiatives to avoid youth idleness through fostering county sports initiatives. Counties like Nairobi, Kakamega and Vihiga have played host to the governor’s cup curated by the governors of these counties.

Nairobi governor’s cup for example, was started to educate youth on dangers of alcoholism and other vices and is sponsored by County Liquor board and organised on behalf of the County and Nairobi FKF Branch.The governer before kick-off advised the players to shun drugs and engage in sporting activities.

Vihiga county holds the Akaranga Cup while Kakamega county the Oparanya cup, all aimed at identifying football talent in their counties.

Other Talent Development Initiatives

There are other talent search and development programs held by different corporates and organizations, some of which have been done while others are recurrent. BRITAM, for example, in 2009, made a donation towards the Mwea Classic Marathon. An annual event to not only empower youth in Mwea, Kirinyaga, but to also discover talent among them.

Then there is the famous Safaricom athletics series which aims to transform lives through sports, using sporting events to bring communities together while at the same time identifying and nurturing new talent. Some of the events under the series include the Safaricom Deaf Half Marathon and the Safaricom National Deaf Athletics Championships and many more. Other initiatives include Sakata Ball by Safaricom, Brookside East Africa Secondary School Games sponsored by Brookside, Safaricom Next generation and the Sportpesa Premier League sponsored by Sportpesa.

Talent development in Kenya has been hampered by the inadequate access to quality training facilities and equipment. Accessiblity to the aforementioned facilities would create a positive environment that encourages proper training. I believe if we put a good percentage of our national budget into nurturing different talents as early as primary school,  then we would have more of Rudishas, Injeras , Wanyamas and even Lupitas.

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About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.