In the recent BBI Launch, one of the issues that Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta mentioned is the youth bulge. Kenya has many young people, and a high number of youths are leaving Universities to join the growing number of tarmacking undergraduates. This issue is beyond Kenya, as 60% of the continent’s population is under 25 years.
Key factors that come up powerfully as weapons to combat the youth bulge is entrepreneurship, empowerment, and mentorship. But what do these words mean? With entrepreneurship, we echo the vision of Safaricom’s Be Your Own Boss Initiative. This is the vision of breaking the tradition of employment and establishing unconventional ideas that let you be your own boss. Mavijanaa, tujiajiri.
Empowerment comprises the preposition Em- the root word being power and the suffix -ment. This word means making someone stronger, more confident, or powerful. Empowerment is a process that helps a person gain supreme power over something. Then we have the word mentor, which refers to an experienced, trusted advisor who helps the other individual gain experience.
The three words are powerful and should be considered by any youth who aspires to be an entrepreneur.
After winning the Blaze BYOB at 19 years and walking away with ksh.5 million, Valentine Nekesa proceeded to transition her business idea to a powerful enterprise. She carved out her own niche by designing clothes for plus size women. This ambitious youth founded Nekesa Queens Limited, which quickly gained market in the country. At age 20, she was a moderator at Start-Up Now Africa, Africa Wear Entertainment, and Uganda Black Hat Forum.
Val left her home at Kakamega to participate in the BYOB. In less than two years after participating in the show, she has become one of Kenya’s best young entrepreneurs.
Helping Young People Develop Business Ideas
In our recent interview with Valentine Nekesa, she shared how she is currently involved in offering mentorship and business coaching. “I feel that mentorship and business coaching are my calling, and I am currently partnering with different organisations and companies to bring mentorship and resources to young people who need to develop their business.” she said.
Valentine is all about helping SMEs in Kenya. Many challenges face SME’s in the country, including inadequate knowledge and skills, poor infrastructure, limited market access, and so much more. Yet SME’s can play a powerful role in employing youths.
Val is actively involved in helping other upcoming entrepreneurs reach the level she has in less than two years. She is out to change the narrative that says the failure rate of SMEs in Kenya is 70%. Through mentorship and empowerment, she is helping other aspiring entrepreneurs catapult their businesses.
Aside from fashion design, mentorship and coaching, Nekesa has worked as an emcee in several events. What drives her? Well, Nekesa stated that she is driven by a need to leave a legacy. “I have a burning urge to know that I helped change several lives in my life is all that keeps me going,” she said.