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