by Ruth Aine - 03 November 2013
In Davos during the World Economic Forum this year, youth unemployment was described as a social and economic time bomb. And indeed it is. Over a quarter of the planet’s young people are neither studying nor working. But there is hope: There is a big opportunity with the use of new technologies and passion. New projects driven by these two factors can help create meaningful work and change lives for the better. For many young people, there is the hope of bringing a new idea to the table and see it come to fruition. They are the entrepreneurs that believe in using the Internet and other new technologies to create opportunities for fellow human beings, including the young.
Rukyat Olamide is a young female from Nigeria. She says that there are about 80 million young people in her country and about 50 % of them are unemployed. She says that the 21st century has been called the entrepreneurial age and that is why she set off on her own to make it happen. She went on to start a foundation to empower the unemployed youth of her country to take responsibility for their own future and find gainful employment. The Rukyat foundation teaches entrepreneurship, provides basic equipment and micro financing. They do this by looking at local community needs and working with local organizations and then help to find opportunities to create and find a business. Finding funding for her project was an uphill task at the beginning, but she has managed to establish relationships with individuals and organisations who don’t just provide money, but also help out with training and logistics. As of October 2013, the foundation has helped 300 people to get training and mentorship. Some have been given start-up equipment and about 20 have received start-up capital for their business projects.
James Eder, a UK national, started his own company at the age of 22. His company is called The Beans Group. It started out with an online platform on studentsbeans.com -- which offers university students discounts, money saving advice and entertainment. He started this company alongside his brother while he [James] was still at University. Today, the company reaches over 25 million visitors a month and employs over 35 staff. His main aim was to help young people to better understand the market that they are a part of and also help brands appreciate the youth market. He also realised that there were many students that were arriving at Birmingham City, who needed help finding something extra work to do. Since its launch in 2005 they’ve registered 1.3 million users , which is a reasonable size of the youth market and have established a recognizable brand in the UK.
James Eder and Rukyat Olamide are both under the age of 30, whose stories are vital in helping the youth understand, that they can bring an end to youth unemployment by taking up the mantle of entrepreneurship. They shared their stories at the recently held One Young World Summit.
I talk of this because, to me these youths are trying to create employment for themselves and their peers. Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing, they are trying to find solutions. Does this mean that they will erase or eradicate unemployment? No. But at least they are being the change that they want to be in society.
According to the Economic Brief from The African Development Bank, more than 20% of the continent’s population or almost 200 million people are “youth” between 15-24 years olds. This youth population in Africa is expected to double by 2045. A very high proportion of these young people are poor. On average 72% of this population in Africa lives with less than $2 per day. The highest rates of poverty can be seen among young women and youth living in rural areas. The youth population constitutes about 37% of the total labor force.
I talk of this because to me, these young people are trying to create employment for themselves and their peers. Instead of sitting at home and doing nothing, they are trying to find solutions. Does this mean that they will erase or eradicate unemployment? No. But at least they are being the change that they want to be in society.
These young people of our continent can be a part of the solution.