According to statistics from last year’s census report, about 39 percent of Kenyans youth are unemployed.
This means a third of Kenyan youths have no jobs in an environment that is widening the gap between the rich and the poor in the society.
The situation becomes more complex when the youth lack formal education after having dropped out of school.
In Narok county, a group of Maasai girls have come together to start an income generating business that will earn them a livelihood.
The group by the name ‘Eselengi Emaa’, which means Maasai Girls, has 50 girls who have come together to do shoe shine business in Narok town.
The group’s Chairlady Ms. Grace Nakola said the girls’ motive was driven by lack of white-collar jobs making them dependent on their parents for their livelihood.
“We have bought two executive shoe shining stalls each with a capacity to serve four people at a go. We will buy more booths to expand our business,” said Ms. Nakola.
Ms. Nakola lamented that most of the girls dropped out of school because of school fees or early pregnancies, hence have been depending on their relatives or well-wishers for their survival.
“Some of us were not lucky to get formal education that is required for a white collar job. So we have engaged in this shoe shining job with a hope of earning some income,” reiterated Ms. Nakola.
The 22-year-old girl said they googled the business idea and found it suitable as it is cheap to begin and not so technical to do.
“We know that this is a men dominated sector, but we will work hard to fit in the business as we are passionate to do the job,” said Ms. Nakola.
She acknowledged the County Women Representative Ms. Soipan Tuya and Labour Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Patrick Ntutu for being in the forefront of advising them and funding them to start the business.
“The Women Representative and CAS Ntutu acknowledged our proposal and gave us some little money to begin our business. We also request the county government to chip in and help us expand our business,” said Ms. Nakola.
She called on the Narok residents to support them by visiting their booths for service ensuring excellence in their job.
“We have plans to expand our business and form a big Sacco that will boost the economy of our county,” she reiterated.
Another youth Ms. Betty Ngotiek said the new initiative is a big relief for her, as she will never idle in town again.
She said their driving factor to do the shoe-shining job is because many people find it challenging to do as it makes one’s hands dirty.
“We know it is a challenging job because shoes are always dirty. But we are comfortable as it will give us something to put in our mouths,” said Ms. Ngotiek.
Stephen Ole Nkoitoi, one of the first customers lauded the young girls for creating an opportunity to create jobs.
“We want the girls to add more booths in town and dominate this market. We will promote them since they are our own,” said Ole Nkoitoi.
Ole Nkoitoi said the initiative by the girls gives men a big challenge, as they too need to unite and do a viable job.
“I like their services because they are very thorough when doing their job. The services they are offering are more than the services offered by other shoe shiners. If they continue that way they will attract many customers,” said Ole Nkoitoi.
He called on the county leaders and elected leaders to support the young girls by giving them cheap loans
“The girls are role models to many other girls in the Maasai land as they have not engaged in drug abuse or prostitution to get their daily income,” said Ole Nkoitoi.
The initiative by the young Maasai girls is an encouragement to the girls in the community who lack formal education due to early marriages and teenage pregnancies that deny them education.
Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) data shows that Narok County was leading by 40 percent teenage pregnancy, infant, maternal and child mortality rates in the year 2018.
By Ann Salaton