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!