A survey of youth opinion on their future prospects and that was of the country was heartening and sad at the same time but there was more scope for optimism than gloom generally.
The survey carried out by the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University had many findings but the ones which struck a chord were that 48 percent or just under half the respondents would opt for going into business over the more traditional corporate careers.
Hazarding a guess this probably points to the fact that when they look around the people with the lifestyles they aspire, but most especially on TV, are businessmen. It helps of course that they live in one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, where everyone around them, including the regular office worker has a side business of one sort or the other.
"It is also the right way to be thinking in a world where job security is becoming more tenuous. The industrial age modes of production which allowed one to have a job for life and enjoy a steady pension in retirement are long dead and buried. Whether that is a good thing or not is neither here nor there, that is just the way things are...
The speed of change now, powered by increasingly quicker communications means companies cannot remain static, but have been forced to react to the market at a moment’s notice or become road kill.
In responding to the market, companies are having to rejig everything from strategy, to processes to human resource. The pressure to keep a job will be higher going into the future, as workers and work forces will have to be in constant state of re-education to keep up with all the changes around us.
And even when you have re-educated, as a unit of production, company owners will have to weigh the benefit of your experience against hiring younger and cheaper workers who know how to manipulate computers, whose processing power has rendered your experience redundant.
As if that is not enough companies are needing fewer and fewer workers to do the same or more work than before. Can you imagine there used to be a pool of secretaries in companies?
"Relatedly it makes sense that the youth would opt for business. In the world they are exposed to, through the media they consume, there is a lot to see, a lot to experience and being tied down to a desk nine-to-five would cramp their style...
All these are within the realm of reality for them given how much value can now be created in the market using the ever advancing ICT opportunities. They not only have a need for speed they are already operating at a higher frequency.
And the nature of business they are looking at are very different from what has been held to be business. Vertical integration, where companies won the whole value chain from production, to manufacturing, to marketing and distribution. They will aim to own one part of the value chain and outsource the rest.
Sporting goods company, Nike, was ahead of its term with this model, outsourcing all the manufacturing and retaining only the design and marketing of their shoes and gear.
They are not looking to won huge cumbersome structures with many moving parts, but will choose lithe and lean operations that can shift quickly in response to the market or can be wound up all together with the minimum of fuss.
The darker side of the survey suggests that the youth have integrity issues. Fifty six percent of them say it doesn’t matter how they make money as long as they are not caught stealing.
That of course is a function of the society in which they live in.
"They see their elders building inexplicable wealth and flaunting it unashamedly with society celebrating rather than shirking them. The message is clearly that the end justifies the means...
But they would be best advised to disabuse themselves of that concept especially if they are going into business.
Due to the rapid changes in technology more and more it is becoming important to be an ethical operator. A disaffected customer, worker or partner can with a few key strokes cause and untold damage to your business that may lead to its eventual windup if you haven’t build enough goodwill in the community the business operates in.
But they will learn that fast enough.
What government and the general society need to do to keep this fire alive is remain open to improving technologies, fast track entrepreneurship programs for everybody not only the youth and keep improving the ease of doing business in the country.