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Creating jobs calls for an ecosystem approach

By Jane Mwangi | June 25th 2021

Thousands of young people, highly skilled with quality technical training have no exit strategy. [Courtesy]

Human rights activist Martin Luther King Jnr once said: “I can never be what I ought to be, until you are what you ought to be”.

King was referring to the interconnectedness of humanity, and the importance of collective efforts to achieve any individual or common goal. But beyond people, this thought applies to processes too.

Imagine a car without an exhaust pipe, a factory production line without an outlet, or a super highway without exits. The result in all scenarios is clog, congestion and chaos.

If we approach all societal problems with the principle that all people, things and processes must have individual roles that contribute to the bigger picture, then every issue can be tackled. This is called the ecosystem approach.

Youth unemployment and rampant failure of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are challenges that come to mind and how the ecosystem approach can be used.                                                                                                             

Thousands of young people, highly skilled with quality technical training have no exit strategy. On the other hand, hundreds of MSMEs are facing paralysis because of the lack of connection to a bigger whole. Like a badly designed engine, factory or superhighway, we are experiencing clog, congestion and blockage both in employment and enterprise.

The resolution is linkages to an ecosystem designed to support the youth and the MSMEs. For the youth, the connection must happen at the beginning, even before enrolling into a college.

For instance, a government Technical Vocational and Training Institution (TVET) will have a sustainable exit strategy for their carpentry graduates, if they are retained to fabricate products or provide services to the government.

For MSMEs, a critical ecosystem for success is through financial institutions. While banks, for instance, may have money to lend to MSMEs, they feel that their final responsibility is to give these small businesses financial literacy and provide financing without engaging any further. But MSMEs face a paralysing inability to access markets, which can only happen through a networked, collective effort.

Banks have unique ability to drive traffic towards a loaned enterprise through a business ecosystem. By networking multiple businesses towards each other, the bank catalyses local partnerships and local growth.

-The writer is Managing Director at Apprentice Job Work Africa. [email protected]


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