How we can leverage the supply chain to create job opportunities for youth

Young people on November 23, 2015 participate in the launch of Skills Mtaani Programme, which seeks to end unemployment. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The future can be bright for the youth and this will only be achieved if we pull more resources together.
  • If more organisations looked at their supply chains from an innovation perspective, therein lies numerous opportunities yet to be tapped.

The economy generated more than 840, 600 jobs last year.

The Economic Survey 2019 released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that private sector employment grew from 69.1 per cent in 2017 to 69.5 per cent last year.

This growth could be attributed to the enabling environment which has been created by the government to enhance employment opportunities and support for the youth.

Among the initiatives is the allocation of 30 per cent of tenders to the youth, women and persons with disability.

Similarly, the government, with the support of the World Bank, has implemented the Kenya Youth Empowerment Project that h focuses on training, capacity building and policy development to improve youth employability.

Likewise, the private sector has also played a critical role towards job creation in the country.


The Private Public Partnership (PPP) has supported the job creation projects, which have also been necessitated by the fact that nearly four in every 10 Kenyans of working age have no jobs.

In terms of job creation, there has been a concerted effort by all key stakeholders to join hands motivated by the unprecedented unemployment figures compared to the global unemployment rate which is at about six people in every 100.

The United Nation’s Human Development Index 2017 puts Kenya’s unemployment rate at 39.1 per cent.

These statistics continue to reflect on high youth unemployment rate as a number of companies’ downside due to harsh economic environment.

The number of the unemployed globally in 2017 stood at over 201 million — with the figure expected to rise this year — as the pace of labour force growth outstrips job creation.


Therefore, supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is very strategic.

SMEs constitute 98 per cent of all businesses in Kenya, create 30 per cent of the jobs annually as well as contribute three per cent of the GDP.

Yet, even with its immense contribution to the economy, the SME sector is facing numerous challenges.

It is no secret that SMEs are hindered by inadequate capital, limited market access, poor infrastructure and rapid changes in technology.

There are several PPP projects that have been implemented to create jobs for the youth under the Vision 2030 programme.

It is for this reason that Coca-Cola System in Kenya and other like-minded organisations have come together to supplement the government efforts.

The company, for instance, is leading an initiative dubbed "Kuza Kazi", a platform that convenes organisations with similar goals and partners with government agencies to provide lasting solutions to the challenge of unemployment among the youth.


This unique partnership is modelled as a de-risking plan for investment, which allows various financial partners to invest in the youth who then set up new table-top businesses within the Coca-Cola system’s outlet creation value chain.

The youth are later absorbed into the retail network and have the opportunity to grow their businesses.

Under this initiative, the pilot seeks to provide up to 1,000 jobs by equipping the youth with skills, capital and know-how to start own businesses.

Based on the learnings from this pilot, the project will be scaled to reach more youth.

This is in addition to other initiatives, such as “5by20”, which seeks to economically empower five million women by the year 2020 globally. In Kenya a total of 557,000 women have been empowered.


As we move towards a circular economy and make progress on sustainable management of waste, bottling companies need to leverage plastic recycling initiatives to create more employment opportunities for youth through innovative packaging, waste collection, recycling and even upcycling.

The future can be bright for the youth and this will only be achieved if we pull more resources together by getting more individuals, companies and government sign up to these joint initiatives to create jobs.

If more organisations looked at their supply chains from an innovation perspective, therein lies numerous opportunities yet to be tapped and platforms to create thousands of jobs.

The writer is the General Manager of Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise.