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East African youth initiate start-ups to become self-reliant

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Johari Sadiq never allowed cultural taboos and financial setbacks dampen her cherished dream to establish a thriving clothing line that would rock her native Tanzania and the entire eastern African region.

The young female entrepreneur is the founder of Binti Africa Limited, a clothing line that has struck a chord with people of African descent yearning for authentic attire.

Sadiq hold a diploma in fashion design from a mid-level college in Tanzania.

Talking to Xinhua during an exhibition to showcase innovative products from youths in the great lakes region, Sadiq hailed the potential of innovations and entrepreneurship to transform the lives of youth.

“Though the fashion industry in this region is young, it has immense potential as an expanding middle class turn to authentic and stylish attire. We only need to innovate and identify a reliable clientele base,” Sadiq said in Nairobi.

She currently employs twenty one people and has explored markets in southern Africa, Europe and America.

“The world of business has evolved rapidly and to survive in the cut-throat competition, one must establish strategic linkages and uphold ethos like trust and reliability,” Sadiq said.

She has ventured into e-commerce and has reached out to overseas clients through social media platforms.

The youth bulge currently experienced in many African countries can be harnessed to fuel socioeconomic renaissance in the continent.

Policy makers attending the international great lakes summit noted that Africa’s demographic dividend is an untapped resource that should be exploited to realize shared prosperity.

“We must incorporate the youth in all development programs and appoint them in strategic positions to exercise their abundant talents and innovations. Africa cannot afford to give her youth a lip service,” remarked Kenya’s cabinet secretary for planning and devolution Anne Waiguru.

Policymakers, development experts and entrepreneurs attended the great lakes summit that focused on youth employment.

Waiguru stressed that friendly policies and financial incentives were crucial to empower the youth and shield them from anti social behaviors.

Youth from post conflict states in the region have found a new lease of life through vocational training and entrepreneurship.

Adhieu Matet Guem, a female South Sudanese youth, noted that formal education alongside access to credit has enabled youngsters from conflict ridden nations rebuild their lives.

Guem is a senior official of the National Youth Union established by the South Sudan government in February 2014 to promote youth participation in conflict resolution.

“It is true that youths have participated in vicious conflicts that engulfed South Sudan in the past. Likewise, we can be agents of change through promoting communal harmony and development in the villages,” Guem told Xinhua.

She revealed that members of her organization have initiated development projects at the grassroots alongside thriving enterprises.

“Some of our members are involved in carpentry, farming and community work to foster peace and reconciliation,” said Guem.

The Great Lakes Summit and exhibition in Nairobi revealed to the world the abundant skills and innovations possessed by youth.

Diaman K.Dominique, the President of the Kinshasa based National Youth Council, said that Congolese youths have utilized their artistic talents to secure a steady income flow.

“Some of the paintings you see here became an instant hit in the prestigious arts market. The Congolese youth have defied their tragic past to forge a new beginning through music, photography and painting,” Dominique told Xinhua.

Kenyan youth have tapped into the nascent green technologies industry to expand their revenue base.

As for Kevin Musila, the founder and CEO of Kenya Green Supply, self employment was his lifelong dream despite the myths associated with it by many youth.

“My stint at a private company when I graduated confirmed that white collar jobs are not a rosy as they are depicted. I worked for eighteen hours in a day yet the remuneration was poor,” said Musila.

He partnered with a group of college mates to register Kenya Green Supply that provide clean energy solutions to households and mid-sized enterprises.

“We provide solar panels on demand to a growing list of customers who includes homes and businesses. In future, we are targeting institutions like schools and hospitals,” Musila disclosed.

He noted that youth led start-ups in Kenya have potential for growth if the current macro-economic stability and political goodwill is sustained.



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