Above is 27-year-old Victor Nandwa who is part of the Kijiji arts collective, Kayole. He started painting under the tutelage of pioneer artist, Mike Wafula. When we met Nandwa, we were blown away by his inviting humble mannerisms and soft-spoken nature. His work strives to capture the lives of the present and future generation of the youth living in Kayole estate, Nairobi. Nandwa is a futuristic artist inspired by Kenya's youth - specifically those of his home engaged in the Jua Kali sector.
JUA KALI is Swahili for “Fierce Sun”. The term was coined in reference to the informal laborers that work under the hot Kenyan sun. The informal sector is Kenya's largest employer today. Jua Kali is a term used to refer to people that work in any informal way. It's also used to describe work that is handmade or crafted with minimal machinery.
Jua Kali artisans are creative individuals who innovate daily. They use recycled waste materials to create their final affordable products that range from cooking stoves, jewelry, wheel barrows, home furniture, and others.
The Jua Kali sector fuels the city of Nairobi and Kenya writ large. The video below elaborates how young university graduates in Kenya (Kisumu city) are looking for employment mainly in the formal sector (blue collar and white collar jobs) but are increasingly finding employment in the informal "Jua Kali" sector that is mainly driven by entrepreneurship.
Kenya's University Graduates in the Jua Kali sector:
Today, the biggest challenge for African governments is inclusive growth. In a country like Kenya, 80% of the country is under the age of 35 years. Sustaining economic growth in such a young economy, while narrowing the inequality gap, is quite a challenging task. To achieve a robust demographic dividend in Kenya, inclusive growth can be achieved by finding ways to support household enterprises like those in the Jua Kali sector and small-holder agriculture sector (65% of Africa's current employment). The majority of young Africans will find employment in the small to medium sized household enterprise industry.
My video below is with UC Berkeley visiting Professor, Dr. Louise Fox. She brings a wealth of experience from her 30 year tenure at the World Bank where she was the lead economist for the Africa region with a focus on Youth Employment. We discuss various policies African governments can undertake to support job creation and entrepreneurship for youth in Africa.
Interview with Prof. Louise Fox