Getting a job in Kenya is a nightmare. A World Bank country 2016 reports that 40% of Kenyans have no jobs. Over 70% of these are youths between ages 18 and 35 years. Although there no data on how many youths with disabilities (YWDs) are in the job marketplace, this number could higher.
Many factors contribute to high unemployment of YWDs. These may include marginalization, stigma, low literacy skills, lack of 21st-century skills and corruption. Junior Achievement Kenya, a non-profit organization based in Nairobi is addressing the challenge of youth employability through offering market driven skills that inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.
Junior Achievement has partnered with the EmployAble Programme, an innovative skills to work program implemented in Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia to provide entrepreneurial skills to youths with disabilities. The training covers key elements such as financial literacy, entrepreneurship and access to finance. The objective of these training is to empower YWDs to create jobs for themselves and their friends.
So far the EmployAble program has placed 2 cohorts of a total of 44 youths with disabilities in JA training. The youths, who have different disabilities, have since graduated from JA. Some have started small businesses while others are in groups where they are saving with a view of accessing credit.
Wilson Macharia, a youth with visual impairment who attended and graduated from the first JA cohort, says that the JA training has literally opened his eyes. He is a leader in one of the groups formed after graduation. Wilson says “The training brought me out of my comfort zone. I now save and I have been retained to manage my brother’s farm. More importantly, the training exposed me to several networks that now allow me to attempt tendering for government services. This is something I always thought was out of my league. ”. Another group from the 2nd cohort has operationalized a business idea started during training. JA and EmployAble also links youths with financial partners to access further support.