Every year, millions of young people enter the job market with little hope of finding formal employment. In Kenya, less than 10 percent of this year’s one million school leavers will get a white-collar job. As a result, aspirations are turning to small businesses in the informal economy: motorcycle deliveries, running small kiosks or hair salons, repair work, cyber dens, e-commerce and gig work - young people are becoming entrepreneurs - and they have incredible potential. They earn double that of their peers, create work for others and are responsible for 41 percent of Africa’s GDP. Despite this, they face significant barriers on their journeys towards improving their livelihoods. Their networks are limited, they aren’t able to access useful, relevant training, and opportunities in the formal world of business are out of reach.
MESH is changing things. Launched in 2021 with support and co-funding from TRANSFORM, MESH is the first online community for entrepreneurs in the informal economy. MESH connects members, creates opportunities and unleashes the shared value in data to enable a generation of young people to take control of their futures. On MESH, young people can find business ideas and tips, learn from each other, and gain access to essential training, gigs, relevant business opportunities, products and, in time, financial services that would otherwise be out of reach. At the same time, MESH is unlocking the potential of the informal economy, connecting forward thinking business to new markets at scale.
TRANSFORM is now working with the team to test if its members can create new routes to market within their communities, generating income by onboarding new points of distribution for Unilever products.
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