With employment opportunities becoming rare by the day, many youths have turned into illegal activities such as taking illegal brews and drugs.
But not for members of a group in Kagumo in Kirinyaga Central, who have joined hands to launch a workshop of arts, drawing, carving and bead work that has earned them fame, besides enhancing their financial standing.
Kimuri Wang’ondu, launched the Kirima Visual Arts and Signs five years ago, with an initial capital of Sh.5,500 after an endless search for job.
Wang’ondu had over time realized he had a sign writing skill which he could use to enhance his financial status.
He said he launched the workshop single handedly before like-minded youth brought experience in carving, weaving and bead works.
Since then, the group has never looked back and with time, they have opened small branches along the Kagumo Karatina road, past Kerugoya town where majority of their customers go for their products.
From the sales they earns at least over Sh.1000 daily with some of the most preferred items being paintings, carvings and beads.
There are various classes of customers with the upper class paying higher while the middle class and lower class, who are mainly locals, pay modestly.
Wang’ondu says the market has grown in leaps and bounds with their biggest advantage being making of portraits and carvings, which tells stories that resonate with the community’s tradition and daily lives of members of the public.
The group has also put up a tree nursery to replenish supply of seedlings that are used to make carvings.
Lately, Wangondu says the group has also taken to composing of music and poetry which has turned out to be a major attraction for the youth.
“The music and poetry address challenges facing the youths and the community including HIV/Aids, population increase, as well as drug and substance abuse.
Another beneficiary of the youth group, Leonard Munene says he joined the organization on realizing he had a talent he could use to advance their interests.
Munene said they have trained the youths on how to utilize talent and 13 of them are being trained on the basics in arts.
“The most important thing is for them is to be able to learn the trade and become self-reliant,” Munene said.
They have since registered the youth group with the County cultural center to safeguard on copy rights of some of their products.
Munene says the group is now working on ways to enable them sells their products to other counties and if possible within the East African Community Common Market.
“With the prevailing unemployment crisis and high demand for specialized skills set by the employers and the dwindling labour market, youths should explore other avenues of keeping themselves engaged”, says Munene.
Josephine Wangechi, a graduate and also a member of the group, says the public and the private sector should embrace entrepreneurship to expand the economy and reduce poverty levels.
She says with the shift towards technological advancement, the county government can tap into youth’s capacity to develop new technologies that can help accelerate growth and in the achievement of vision 2030.
Wangechi says the government should help the youth embrace entrepreneurship by providing financial assistance and guidance.
Many young people, she adds, have viable business ideas but lack resources to transform the concepts into feasible projects.
She says guidance on how to spend the initial capital is crucial as the projected financial base tends to be inadequate to cater for purchasing essential assets, marketing, branding and book keeping.
“Providing mentors for the youths with viable business ideas or proposals are key to the success of projects” notes Wangechi
“Everyone has a role to play in the development of their respective counties and youths too should not be left behind in the development” says yet another group member Joseph Muthike.
Muthike says the main challenge facing the 20-member group is a good gallery where they can display their commodities.
He says the county government should now provide a grant to assist the group put up a shed that would enhance their capacity to venture into advertising
By Irungu Mwangi