Are We Missing Something?

I have a story for you: a few years ago, one of my best friends quit his job. He used to work at one of the best performing companies in the Nairobi stock exchange. He quit so that he could set up his own advertising agency.

Guess what? His parents and his whole family, really, were up in arms over his decision. They could not believe why anyone would leave such a high paying job. His uncles even took time visiting him to ‘advise’ him to go back to his old job. To this day, one of his uncles always calls him with contacts of managers at large companies – he asks my friend to send his CV to the managers so that he can ‘make something out of his life’.

What you probably won’t believe is that my friend’s business is doing quite well. He has about twelve employees now, and has been profitable since his first month. Yet his family still refers to his work as ‘jua kali nonsense’. He should go get a ‘real’ job like everyone else, they say.


Recently in Thika, I heard of a bizarre incident. My friend’s dad was interviewing job applicants. The quality of the applicants was impressive – almost everyone had an impressive CV full of various qualifications and accomplishments. Some of the applicants were university graduates with degrees and everyone seemed like they really wanted the job. Surprisingly, as it turns out, the job in question was that of digging trenches. Can you believe it?

On one hand we have impressively qualified people looking for a job, any job. On the other hand we have the brave few who have enough courage to try and start their own businesses. Who would you rather be?

Let’s face it, we do not have an entrepreneurial culture in this country. How can people who try and start their own businesses be looked down upon by their families and societies while what they are doing is precisely what is needed to address our high unemployment rates? We need more people starting businesses yet these people’s mothers and fathers won’t let them. They’d much rather have their loved one’s join the over saturated job hunting market.

We need change! We need people like you and me to start businesses today. We need society to stop stopping us. We need to embrace the entrepreneurial culture in this country!

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  1. Kenyans lack an enterpreneurial culture and the society adores people who are employed.What most people fear is financial stability ,maybe the best thing would be to encourage people to have by-the side businesses n wen u r making more money than what you get from employment,one can quit.i personally think the best way is to first learn through employment and then start your business.on that note i wonder wat our parents would think was one to quit employment to become an intrepreneur,who works from his/her house.

  2. I suppose if you start from the position that enterprise isn’t respectable, then you’ve already got the mother of all barriers right there from those family and friends who would prefer you engage in a respectable (I’ve also heard it called real) job.

    Pray tell, what is a real job anyway?

    I’ll hazard a guesss and susggest that this cultural attitude has perhaps got something to do with a recent research from Kenyatta University that claims that Kenyans are functionally illiterate (well, they try sugar coat things – but let’s stop beating around the bush). Maybe we just don’t recover from the regressive stupidity of our functional illiteracy by the time we’re shepherded into a mindset about what respectable employment looks like.

    Everyone wants to work in an office and wear a suit, no one wants to be seen dead doing KYM ala Kazi ya mkono.

    And what is this stupidity of relatives feigning concern about leaving a good job? WTF! Talk about protecting your meal ticket.

    • LOL, well said!! I’m on of those who actually was called to a ‘meeting’ by my uncles to ‘talk sense to me’ to go back to a real job. I couldn’t believe it!

  3. SQLGuy says:

    I totally agree and support your sentiments that we as educated Kenyans lack the entrepreneurial culture.
    Why do i say educated elite? Take an example of a fresh graduate, graduated with honours. Rare are those who take the bold step to start some gig of their own and tough it out to it’s success. Most will opt to “tarmack” for what will seem like an endless period of time and there after having no option get a soft loan from family members to set up a small business.
    Note the difference, being an enterpreneur is out of choice, it’s who you are, it’s what you want and NOT necessitated out of lack of options 🙂 …those are not enterpreneurs, those are business people.
    Kudos Kelvin, you are one of the enterpreneurs to be looked up to!

    • Thanks! I hope through this site we’ll be able to inspire people to ‘take up arms’ and go fully into entrepreneurship.

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