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It’s not all gloom in unemployment, graduates tell of opportunities

By Standard Team | Updated Tue, June 25th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Standard Team

 Fredrick Ojiambo Munuku - Entrepreneur

Kenya: I graduated from Egerton University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry.

I expected to find a nice job within a short time but after waiting for long, I decided to start working as a watchman during the night to avoid being seen by my friends and during the day, I was doing construction work.

I did this for six months. Luckily, I managed to get a one-year contract with Barclays Bank. Since I knew how the job market was shaky, I lived in a cheap house and embarked on saving.

I saved about Sh500,000 in year while at Barclays Bank because I did not know if they will ever renew my contract. I registered a company and started supplying books to schools. As I did this, I met a manager who was tired heading a school, which was making losses. l decided to pay him goodwill and took over the school.

Using drugs

Shortly after acquiring the school, my contract at Barclays was terminated. I went into went into school business fully. The school was in Kawangware at a crime-prone area.  There were many youths who were engaging in crime there. I talked to them and found out most of them were using drugs.

I realised this was an opportunity to reach out to them, through rehabilitation programmes. I later turned the projects into an NGO, which I have registered in Kenya and in the US. In the last few years, I have helped more than 43 youths quit drugs and helped them either go back to school or start business ventures.

I have created employment opportunities for 30 people, both at the school and in the NGO. I would like to challenge graduates that they should not just think that after graduating, they will get good jobs.

I have completed a Master’s degree in Entrepreneurship at JKUAT and am now undertaking a Diploma in Addiction Counselling. I am planning to do a Bachelor’s degree in Counselling Psychology. I lost the passion I had for Biochemistry.

Douglas Morungi

In 2010, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Disaster Management and International Diplomacy. Three years later, I have not been able to find a job. With my course, I knew that searching for a job in my home area in Kisii could be a waste of time. I moved to Nairobi hoping to land a job in the then Ministry of Special Programmes where I had done my internship a year before. I never wished to stay with relatives since I wanted freedom. So, I put up with a friend at Pipeline area and thought I could land a job in less than a month. It turned to years.

I made applications to more than 20 banks in vain. None of them responded with even a regret letter. I also made over 30 applications to NGOs. In total, I have made 88 hardcopy applications and over 120 online applications.

Post office

My worst experience came one day when I was dropping an application letter for a vacancy at Posta. Since I used to visit town almost daily, I decided to drop my letter at Teleposta building. I was disappointed to be told that I must send it through the post office.

I spoke to whoever was in-charge of receiving applications, but he rejected mine. I was to spend Sh50 yet my success wasn’t assured. So I decided to quite applying for jobs temporarily.

In March 2011, I got a job in a clearing and forwarding company. I worked for one year and resigned due to poor working conditions.  I got a call from my alma mater Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology to help them in research. However, in June 2012, the research was over. With nine other participants, I got a chance to appear in a programme on a local TV station for three months hoping that they would offer us jobs as initially promised. Only two of us secured jobs.

This year in April, I met my former boss at the clearing and forward firm and he asked me to rejoin his company since he had improved the working environment.

I now work in the accounting department. I am planning to study the subject so that I can be competent.

Jackline Ogayo

 I thank The Standard for highlighting the plight of jobless graduates. I graduated from University of Nairobi with BSc. Agriculture in 2010 and have not been able to find a job. I worked as a marketer for a SACCO but left the job because of poor pay.

I have enrolled at the same university to pursue the MBA program with a hope of getting employment someday, thanks to my family members who are struggling to pay my fees.

 I have reached a point where I can do any job as long as it can sustain me. I am hoping and praying that I will get a job someday. I have sent several CVs to various organisations but have not been lucky.

Mwai Kariuki

I am currently pursuing a Masters in Criminology at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST). I graduated with a Bachelor of Criminology from the same university in 2011.

I was very optimistic of getting a job considering that criminology is a new discipline in East Africa. It was introduced at MMUST in 2006. I remember the first job I applied was at G4S as a graduate management trainee.

However, I was not successful but was sent a regret letter, which was encouraging considering the fact it’s rare for employers to do so. I did not give up and continued to apply whenever vacancies were advertised. However, I gave up on employment and recently registered a company to help me take my career to the next level.

Financing projects

My firm is called PEVAK Investments Company. It provides a wide range of products such as background checks, consultancy services, security audit, private investigations, security gadgets installation and criminology research, among others. However, this direction is quite challenging especially due to high operational costs that include marketing and financing projects.

I would like to take this opportunity to pass my regards to The Standard for the job well done in bringing out the unemployment crisis, which leads to crime. Crime is rising in our society and has recently become a staple food for the media. Indeed, to tackle crime, it requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders.

Sadly, Kenya is a capitalistic society that emphasis on individual accumulation of wealth.

The government should create a level playing ground so that people can advance themselves legitimately.

John Kago

I happen to be among the youth who graduated in 2002. My father was a peasant farmer in Kiambu County and he struggled to raise seven of us. I had finished Form Four in 1997 and later joined university. I had hoped to get a job soon after graduating but that did not happen. To those who are undergoing such experience, I say all is not lost.

When I read the stories in The Standard, I was lost for words. What I can tell fellow youths, who are out there looking for jobs, is that most inventions were made by people facing challenges or had something that they were to overcome. So the problem of unemployment should be used as a stepping-stone to success.

Back to my story, I realised no company was willing to employ me since I did not know anyone.

I could not stop my life, thus, I met a woman and got married. I had two more mouths to feed. This pushed me into matatu industry. A friend helped me join and I did the work with passion. I met a lady who was aspiring to be Kasarani MP. I worked for her as a driver for sometime.

Though she didn’t make it to Parliament, during campaigns, I made so many contacts. I had the privilege to share a table with the late Cabinet minister John Michuki and Prof Wangari Maathai.

What I learnt from all of them is the essence of time and friendship. Michuki asked me how long it can take for 10 of my friends to raise Sh100,000 for me if am in need. He told if they can take a week, I should forget that I have friends. I have put this in mind as I work hard in my various businesses. So people should have realistic dreams.

To me, school leavers should adjust and move with the times. These are no longer days of the Industrial Revolution, and if you believe in being employed, you will die a slave. What I know is that most of students who score As and Bs can end up working for C students.

I am who I am today because my dreams are big. I’m still in the matatu industry and doing well. I have been visiting schools to encourage students. They invite me and I go and talk with them. I have achieved a lot through my businesses. Let people see opportunities where there are none.

George Joel Kaburi

 Kenya National Organisation for the Welfare of Unemployed Persons was concerned by the plight of graduates from universities.

It is not pleasant to have such highly qualified people roaming aimlessly due to lack of formal employment.

But one observation one can note is the fixed mindset graduates have as they search for jobs. They want to be employed. Not one of them wants to create jobs. I am yet to note of any group of university graduates that has come together for community service.

I am the founder of the society and it is a good example of innovativeness. No graduate had the slightest idea of the need to have this kind of society. Perhaps it was seen as a futile venture because many are seeking to count and talk of the money that they earn every month.

Our office is located in a very strategic location in a slum, where I am sure many graduates walk past but cannot deliver a curriculum vitae here since we do not seem to be a good organisation. Since opening our office over a year ago, only one graduate teacher from a nearby primary school has walked in to comment our efforts.

I believe I am miles ahead from other graduates, some who are busy thinking jobs will come their way. We have not received any CV from the graduates who are willing to work for the community. This is one of the pitfalls of our graduates. They do not know opportunity may arise from community service.

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