JAY4T’s Focus on Youth Unemployment in Kisumu​

JAY4T's Focus on Youth Unemployment in Kisumu

Photo by Calvin Mbeda from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/fish-cages-in-the-sea-5285503/

Young people lie between the grand challenges and the great opportunities of Africa. And, we are leveraging this potential by collectively working on employability with young people and our stakeholders. According to KNBS (2021/2022), Kisumu has a population of around 1.15 million people. Youth make up over 60% of the population, and 41% of them are unemployed, despite having finished free and required elementary education, secondary education, and, in certain cases, tertiary education. (Source: Access Youth Power)

The situation is made worse by the fact that more youth are being released into the job market each year from institutions of higher learning, with between 15,000 and 20,000 graduates being churned into the limited job market each year, and the absorption rate remaining seemingly stagnant. (Source: Bringing the Global to the Local). Even with government options such as Ajira Digital, the National Youth Service, and Kazi Mtaani, youth remain functionally inactive, reverting to menial occupations and enterprises for survival. (Source: Capital FM).

Together with a group of young people in Kisumu, our stakeholders, and research, we intend to examine how youth access work alternatives and the variables causing high unemployment rates in Kisumu, with the goal of using the findings to inform anti-unemployment measures. 


  • The formal sector is unable to absorb the huge number of fresh university graduates. Jobs in the formal sector are decreasing, while jobs in the informal sector are increasing. Unfortunately, fresh university graduates are not properly equipped with skills for the informal sector job.  (Source: Statista)
  • Government and private sector initiatives for youth job prospects are generally known: more than 90% of youth are aware of or know another youth who has benefitted from government/private sector programs on youth employability. The most popular were KYEOP, NITA, and Ajira Digital. 
  • Dissatisfaction with Government Actions: Despite government efforts, 40% of graduates believe the government is not doing enough to provide a path ahead after graduation. This answer is attributed to the common obligation to pay a bribe to gain a job, as well as open nepotism.
  • Corruption and political biases in the selection process: Nearly half of the respondents reported contacts with substantial deterioration in the form of injustice, poor governance, and tribalism in their pursuit of employment and chances.

“…I was instructed that I needed to bring in KSH. 50,000 in order to get the position, and I would recoup that amount from the excellent income provided.” I had no money, and I didn’t have a quick way to get more. I lost the employment opportunity, and it was handed to someone else who arranged a community fundraiser to raise funds…”

  • Some employers make sexual demands: Some female jobseekers have expressed their frustration with being frequently requested for sexual favors in order to acquire employment after interviews, to maintain some positions, or to advance in their careers.
  • Lack of confidence throughout the job hunt: Approximately one-fourth of the fresh graduates interviewed acknowledged to lack of confidence in their job search.
  • Skills taught through higher learning curricula do not provide job-relevant competence. This has been noted as a hindrance to employment, with companies stating that the tertiary curriculum must be revised and customized to sharpen specified skills, abilities, and interests that may lead to chances for self-sufficiency in the future. Some young people felt their courses are unrelated to existing job possibilities and therefore a high learning curve to catch up with employment offered in a profession in which they have no experience. (Source: British Council)

Our intervention

  • Social Entreprise Co-creation 

    We have co-created 5 social enterprises with young people with an aim to create more sustainable jobs and solve selected sustainable development challenges in Kenyan communities. 

    • Sote Tule (Ideation Stage) – builds collectives among farmers in accessing value additional services in an affordable and sustainable way and increasing their profit margin.
    • KaaKazini (Prototyping Stage) – connects tradesmen to skills training and job placement to guarantee quality, cost-effective and reliable services.
    • SafishAfrika (Ideation Stage) – connects waste collectors to households in hard-to-reach and easily forgotten neighborhoods of Kisumu to manage waste at the source and prevent pollution of water sources.
    • Bustani Pods (Prototyping Stage) – creates access to informal education and mentoring for young people around social innovation and social entrepreneurship alongside 21st-century skills and sustainable development in spaces connected to the environment.
    • BamBamBam (Ideation Stage) – a mobile application that gives young people access to information on personal development and opportunities for engagement in an interactive way. 
    • Barizi (Prototype Stage) – An online tourism marketplace showcasing places, events, and attractions in Kisumu for local and international tourists.
  • Open Innovation Project

Open innovation is about sourcing ideas and solutions from a broad diversity of individuals and organizations to drive innovation. Our open innovation project is aimed at creating or contributing to hardware, software, and services that are designed for the benefit of the community, and doing that together with the community. Currently, our open innovation initiatives include our co-created social entreprises.

Get involved

Join us in our efforts to increase youth employability in Kisumu by partnering with us or exchanging ideas. You can reach us through email at info@jay4t.org


JAY4T Receives National Diversity and Inclusion Opportunities for Youth Employment Award

JAY4T Receives National Diversity and Inclusion Opportunities for Youth Employment Award

We are delighted to announce the outcome of the DIAR Awards 2022, where we were crowned the winners of the award category: Best Inclusion Opportunities for Youth Employment Award, which celebrates organizations that have employed strategies that address youth unemployment in Kenya. Our Executive Director, Johanssen Obanda, received the trophy on March 18, 2022, during the DIAR 4th Edition Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony. 

Image Source: DIAR Awards

Johanssen says, “Our work is founded upon diversity, equity, and inclusion – and that has been our strength all along. Every young person in our team contributes their unique brilliance and we end up co-creating innovative solutions that potentially open doors of employment for hundreds of thousands of young people.”

Image Source: DIAR Awards

We have co-created two social entreprises with young people including Sote Tule – an agribusiness Social Enterprise that connects farmers to households, allowing them to sell their products directly and increase their profit margin; and KaaKazini which connects skilled tradesmen to households, offices, and industries through a web platform, enabling for rapid hiring, capacity development, and economic empowerment.

JAY4T recognizes that our current community is not fully equitable. We have established DEI policy, and priorities to ensure that JAY4T actively seeks out opportunities to include those who are underrepresented or marginalized, to include them in our decision-making, learn from their perspectives, amplify their voices, and, ensure that they have opportunities for growth in our organization. We pledge to:

  • Create a welcoming community, one that is open to challenging assumptions about diversity, equity, and inclusion, to ensure that all individuals/groups can fully participate
  • Expand our international engagement
  • Continue to broaden partnerships with other organizations that have diversity programs to support broader community engagement activities
  • Provide training and educational resources specifically targeted to young people that have historically been underrepresented
  • Recruit without bias for all JAY4T activities and actively seek participation from groups that are discriminated against, underrepresented, and marginalized

Nolali wase Dolophini and JAY4T Collaborate to Promote Quality Education

During this International Day of Education, Jabulani Youths for Transformation is glad to announce our collaboration with Nolali wase Dolophini to promote literacy for children and youth in Kisumu County, Kenya, and in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Nolali wase Dolophini is a Xhosa Phrase with the direct translation “a villager from town”.  Nolali wase Dolophini Book Club aims to bridge the rural – peri-urban – urban literacy divide and ultimately the rural – peri-urban – urban education divide. 


The Book Club is open thrice weekly to young people between the age of 6 and 15 years.  Through our collaboration, we will bring together young people from both organizations once every month virtually for knowledge sharing between the young people, cross-cultural and cross-continental learning, and monitoring and evaluation.


Access to quality education improves the learning capabilities of young people. Unfortunately, some homeless children and children living in low-income communities in Kisum still experience the challenge around education by lacking access to learning materials, learning infrastructure, and sufficient attention from tutors due to the big student-teacher ratio. According to the research by Maoulidi, Moumie. (2008). EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOR KISUMU CITY, KENYA, National and local authorities must also address issues of quality by training teachers and must enhance equity by targeting vulnerable groups such as girls and poor children. 

We are continuously building synergies with private companies, civil society organizations, and government agencies to collaboratively narrow the gaps in access to quality education for children in Kisumu. This is in line with our objective of fostering positive youth development. 

Acknowledging SDG4 Enablers in our Ecosystem

Tore’s Foundation works to empower young people to develop their critical thinking and discover their voice through debate in order to transform their communities and engage politically. 

Worldreader is a nonprofit organization bringing reading to children in underserved communities.

Junior Achievement provides age appropriate, experiential and turnkey in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: Entrepreneurship, Financial literacy and Work readiness.

SOMAPP works to transform education using technology, ensuring opportunities for all in accessing quality education focusing on skills of the future, leaving no one behind

Mentoring and Building Resilient Communities, the Intersection

Building resilient communities begins at the foundational level. Those in these communities know the issues that affect them and also the length of time it takes to develop solutions. Because these issues do not just fade away immediately, it becomes clear that it will be the young people who will eventually experience the harshest of effects. Many factors go into fostering a sustainable and resilient community for our young people; many, too, that most don’t think of. 

One key component of facing these challenges is through professional and interpersonal Advocate Mentoring. Guiding young people in the development of their skill sets is critical to help them to achieve their goals as well as provide outcomes that contribute to their communities. Creating an Advocacy Mentorship program at JAY4T helps to find those who might benefit from having a mentor and places them with one that aligns with their goals, needs, and schedule. This mutually beneficial relationship is based on shared interests, mutual respect, and care. These Mentors act as a resource for information, professional expertise, interpersonal skills knowledge, and act as a role model to both Mentees as well as their peer Mentors. 

Having been a part of the development of this program myself throughout my time as an JAY4T intern, I find it more important than ever to work alongside a community in the hopes of establishing a Mentorship Program. There is such a need for leaders who are able to offer professional and technical guidance throughout a young person’s time with us. Building these new connections to bring Mentor and Mentee together leads to cycles of new young people willing to pass down knowledge on to the next generation of advocates.


Book: Shopping of the Scientist

Limited physical activity, increased stress, and poor diets have been major contributors to the increase of Communicable Diseases among residents of Kisumu, with the young population being the largest affected population. Moreover, Kisumu experiences Global Acute Malnutrition of 5.9%, which is poor according to the Kenya Nutrition Bulletin. Consequently, this has a negative impact on youth development and youth engagement, therefore calling for our intervention, to create an enabling environment for young people to thrive. JAY4T is working to promote youth involvement in sustainable agriculture to prevent NCDs caused poor diet, to increase food production, and to make different varieties available to boost nutrition with an overall aim of contributing to food security that is: availability (having sufficient quantities of appropriate food available), access (having adequate income or other resources to access food), and utilization/consumption (having adequate dietary intake and the ability to absorb and use nutrients in the body). This book by Sarah, our Associate from Italy is a resource to help young people learn and engage better with food in a fun way.





About the Book

 From 10 to 99 years, a book to see the food with a whole new dress and that teaches not to be afraid to experiment. A journey, aboard a trolley, between food and supermarket shelves but with the gaze of true scientists. We all eat and we are all fascinated more by some foods and less by others, but have you ever looked at cabbage not as a terrible vegetable but as the main ingredient of a spectacular scientific experiment? Science can surprise you once again by making you discover more and more deeply what surrounds you. How many times have you handled potatoes, lemons, vinegar, or flour without realizing their potential? Get ready to make all the “flavors” to know the extravagant properties of food that make them the perfect reagents for an experiment and also the properties that can be useful to our body, to make us grow, learn and play!



About the Author 

SARAH BRANCHESI is a Nutritionist Biologist specialized in the elaboration of customized food plans for various developmental ages, as well as sports diets and pathological diets. Since 2015 he has expanded his career in science outreach. After being selected to participate in EASE (European Academy for Scientific Explainers), she has been involved on the national territory by realizing workshops, projects, and conferences for schools, science festivals, museum facilities, radio, and social networks with the aim of helping adults and children to understand the correct diet. In 2020 she continued to devote herself to research on new sports diets, which led her to the publication of her scientific poster “Body composition without weight oscillation: a new approach to cycling diet in combat sports”, in the XI Edition of the National Congress Space Nutrition

Website: www.sarahbranchesi.com

Instagram: @nutrizionistasarahbranchesi

Nutrition Education Through Science Experiments 

Poor nutrition is one of the causes of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, preventable cancer, mental health conditions, and cardiovascular diseases. According to UNICEF, high costs and low affordability means billions of people cannot eat healthy and nutritiously. This state of food poverty also affects our clients and calls for us to respond with innovative and inclusive solutions promoting better nutrition among young people. 

With children from Mama Ngina Children’s Home, our volunteers, and Vanda Gatti – a Biochemist and one of our Directors, we kickstarted science engagement activities focused on nutrition by performing experiments with easy-to-find materials and food using a guidebook called “The Shopping of a Scientist” by Nutritionist Biologist, Sarah Branchesi. Through the experiments, the children can learn about the nutritional value of a variety of food in a fun and playful way, do the experiments on their own, and explain the function of the respective food. Therefore being more aware of what lies behind different kinds of food and how important it is for their growth and development. 


JAY4T has scheduled a calendar of science engagement activities around nutrition and sustainable agriculture to work with young people in Kisumu and to contribute to food security. We are fostering behavior change through education and communication through this intervention while prioritizing child nutrition as the category with the greatest need. Additionally, our agribusiness social enterprise Sote Tule is working to increase availability and access to food among low-income households in Kisumu and gradually in other counties of Kenya through supporting local small-scale producers to produce more nutritious food and linking them to markets including the most food-insecure households. This is with great consideration of cost and affordability.  

Youth Participation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

This article was presented by Johanssen Obanda during the Pan-African Youth Summit (PAYS) 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Youth in Africa form a larger part of the population. According to the US Census Bureau (International Database), in 2010, 63% of Africa’s overall population was below the age of 25. Unfortunately, there is an evidently slow and deteriorating progress in youth development and in youth participation in the post-15 development agenda.

It is important to note that the efforts toward fostering Positive Youth Development may arise from socio-economic, institutional and cultural barriers. However, if Positive Youth Development programs are designed in culturally appropriate manners, they can empower local/indigenous youths and become a significant positive influence on their growth and development.

In order to effectively engage Youths in African Countries in the post 15-development agenda, Positive Youth Development has to be effectively and sufficiently implemented in a culturally appropriate manner and made accessible to all indigenous and migrant youth populations in each African country and across the African continent by 2030 through a combined effort of governmental and non-governmental incentives.

The Big Questions

  • What is the place of young people in countries where more than 50% of the country‟s wealth is controlled by just about 0.25% of the population?
  • How can the youth be involved in the development agenda in economies that suppress their efforts by lack of proper housing and settlement, poor and unaffordable health services, uncertain job security, difficult access to business capital, poor and nonintegrated educational services that results to skills mismatch, poor economic skills, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, a digital divide, financial crisis due to inflation making it difficult to survive?
  • What is the plight of young people in economies that are steadily rising yet unemployment rate remains constant or become higher? 
  • What is left for young people in countries where corruption carries the day and unethical behavior goes unpunished?
  • What are the place and the identity of young people in a highly globalized society? 
  • How can young people be effective in environments that do not embrace Positive Youth Development?

Challenges and Opportunites for Youth Participation

More than 73 million youth are registered unemployed globally. Considering how many are not registered, this number is actually much higher. 620 million are currently not in employment, education or training (NEET) according to the World Bank. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 3 in 5 of the total unemployed are youth (International Labor Organization ILO 2006) and on average 72% of the youth population live with less than $2 a day.

Moreover, most African countries are associated with unequal distribution of resources, poor governance, high rate of corruption, and nepotism, making it difficult for youths who are equally advantaged (i.e. academically fit and having required skills for a certain career opportunity) to get equal chances; making them look for other means for survival – most settle for vulnerable employment in the informal sector and some end up in criminal activity.

Youths in many African countries add up to the statistics of crime, early pregnancy, school drop-outs, HIV transmission, accidents and many more disheartening statistics. This could give a general outlook of a neglected population, or else, a population that is beyond control.

A World Bank survey in 2011 showed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they are motivated by a lack of jobs. Alexander Chikwanda, Zambia‟s finance minister, puts it succinctly: “Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb,” which now appears to be perilously close to exploding. Mr. Chikwanda‟s analogy draws attention to the consequences of high youth unemployment in a continent where about 10 million to 12 million young people join the labor market each year. “As events in North Africa [the Arab Spring] have shown, lack of employment opportunities … can undermine social cohesion and political stability,” warns the AfDB (African Development Bank). Ahmad Salkida, a Nigerian journalist who has had rare access to the militant group Boko Haram, told Africa Renewal that although the sect is mainly driven by ideology, pervasive unemployment in northern Nigeria makes for easy recruitment of jobless young people.

Fortunately, many intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, community organizations and the individual governments are taking a leap forward to intervene in the “youth crises” through programs and projects that aim to help young people to live better – especially through mitigating urban-migration, providing entrepreneurial support, providing better social services and enabling young people to explore and exploit their energies, talents and skills through intensive programs like volunteer corps, technical and vocational education and training and national youth service,
for instance. 

In this light, there is a need for rekindling Africa-specific strategies toward Positive Youth Development. For young people to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and to the success of their countries there has to be an enabling environment to allow them to build and nurture their confidence, character, competence, connection and caring selves. The term “environment” should be interpreted broadly and includes: social (e.g., relationships with peers and adults), normative (e.g., attitudes, norms and beliefs), structural (e.g., laws, policies, programs services, and systems) and physical (e.g., safe, supportive spaces).

If Positive Youth Development Programs in Africa do not harmonize the cultural divide, the efforts may as well be in vain. Young people are most directly affected by globalization and therefore central to current debates on identity. They are experiencing globalization on an
everyday basis through employment patterns, the friendship groups they develop, their usage of the internet (particularly for social networking) and wider cultural influences on their lifestyles (Kenway & Bullen, 2008; Edwards & Usher, 2008; Burbules & Torres, 2000).

Countries in Africa face different challenges in this age and time for instance war in Somalia and South Sudan, Islamic radicalization in non-Islamic states like Kenya, immigration like Libya, slavery like Democratic Republic of Congo, adverse climatic conditions like part of Somalia and North Eastern Kenya, terror like Nigeria. Subsequently, these factors cause super-diversity, multiple-diversities and trans-nationalism. Making it practically sophisticated to establish effective programs that are youth centered in such environments. In addition, engaging the young people in decision making and in economic development and socio-cultural stability becomes critical if their identities and the risks associated with these shifts towards a lack of stability in their environment are not taken care of.

Policy-makers and practitioners ought to give greater consideration to the relationship of globalization to identity and a sense of belonging, and the implications this relationship has for national policies and programmes. Moreover, to enable young people to make sense of the complex nature of the world around them, they need the opportunities to learn, engage and make sense of how the global changes impacts upon them. To respond to the influence of globalization on young people‟s lives, there is a need to ensure that this understanding of the wider world is linked to initiatives that enable them to engage locally. The indigenous African Youths have a deep sense of cultural identity across the continent, and with time, there is need to work collaboratively in diverse environments drawn from across race, class, gender and generation.

In conclusion, Africa is the continent with the most resource thanks to our Maker. We ought to work interdependently with developed countries, but on most instances, we depend on them almost entirely, ignoring the power of young people of Africa. The youth of our continent Africa are undisputable resources, if they will not be engaged strategically and meaningfully, the will eventually be a life-threatening people group, and be a major impediment to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.


Beck, U (2000) what is Globalization? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bourn, D (2003) „Global Perspectives in Youth Work‟, Youth and Policy, Vol. 80, pp. 6-21.

Tomlinson, J (1999) Globalization and Culture, Cambridge: Polity Press.

U.S. Census Bureau (International Data Base); available at http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/ (2009)

“Youth and Employment in Africa – The Potential, the Problem, the Promise” (2007)

“Keys to Quality Youth Development”. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved 16 October 2014.