Digital Innovation for Sustainability: Optimizing Investments in Entrepreneurship for Youth in Kenya

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For a while, I have tried to keep up with trends in international trade, and my musings is that Internet and digital wave have impacted businesses and lives.

Around 2003, SARS virus belabored China and businesses were forced to adjacent. For example, Alibaba almost closed as its workforce were deposited into quarantine and the question as to whether the start-up would pull through came into play. Closure of the business would have capitulated to diminution of the enterprise. What next?

We are kept keen on the grindstone of pain and necessity.” H.G. Well

The staff parceled and transported essentials home and Taobao was developed, a consumer online market and now the world’s largest retail online marketplace, a transformation amidst a crisis! Forget about the ‘big piggy bank’ of company the experience corroborated a sociological philosophy that “challenges are fallow opportunities only if explored, and practiced.”

Similarly, COVID-19 has brought things into a disable state. Experts have traced its origin and spread from wet-market and host-human contact, revelation that human ruination of biodiversity could be the possible fountainhead. For instance, David Quammen divulged that the disruption ecosystems have made human beings alternative hosts for viruses. Is the interplay between pathogens and human beings beneficial? No.

Pathogens do not respect human species boundaries.” Prof. Thomas Gillespie, Disease Ecologist

Are there doyens or savage whims on its impact? Yes! Kate Jones gauged that the disease would have significant threat to economies and life. So far, several deaths have occurred and no clinical antidote though. Also, non-therapeutic measures have stretched life to its extreme limits. For example, business closures, pay cuts or lay offs have been on trend, a vexatious journey! Solutions need to be sought and served rightly!!

Attempts to obliterate the contact between human beings and pathogens even if it would mean closing markets, vaccine discovery or both. Does that sound crass? Market closure for example, sounds simple but arduous to implement. Why?

Many people depend on markets for food and livelihood, and getting ride of markets is impossible.” Dr. Delia Grace, a senior epidemiologist and veterinarian, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Ideally, market immunity to closure has or will concoct both pain and pleasure. First, the disease would spread due to mass ingress of people and goods. If the high cases would not be tracked and diminished then gigantic deaths and economic emaciation would be a profession, God forbid. Yes, as things transpire, options are minimal, and we must be petrified.

           “We are an era of chronic emergency. Diseases are more likely to travel faster than before. It needs investments, change in human behavior, and we must listen to people at community level.” Brian Bird, a virologist.

Kenya is at a crossroad if these daily COVID-19 briefs are veracious. Bird hinged that the risks are greater now but what matters is our interactions, which must be changed. He further noted that we can’t be certain of the future but a mitigation plan for any worse case scenarios would be vital. That said, optimizing investments in digital entrepreneurship for youth in Kenya should be constitutional. Lords of digital diets have offered slants beyond illusion and doubt.

The digital economy represents a departure from the traditional zero-sum game business model with its focus on shared or inclusive job creation.” Brian A. Wong,

Many businesses have struggled, and might kneel-down to avoid the wrath of the disease. A satisfactory number of businesses have mastered the ethos, pocketing hefty profits despite the quandary. Alibaba for example, has made a lot and reached a plethora of many other SMEs and start-ups. Similarly, New York Times made a whopping annual profit of $ 508.4 millions out of its online readers.

 Kenya is also on the right path as McKinsey’s Lions go online digital report postulate that the continent’s online shopping could for up to 10% of retail sales (with a value of about US $ 75 billion by 2025) due to Internet access. Several online companies such as Jumia, Takealot, and Kilimall have emerged. Safaricom has a new product and is yet to rip big. Youths are constantly struggling to adjust to the new normal. Last month, a group of youth invented a convertible chair, which shock the Internet fraternity. In return, several orders and payments were made amidst the pandemic.

Going by the trends, an investment in training, mentorship, funding and partnership with young entrepreneurs will serve and build this country to greater heights. In short, digital economy is strong, resilient, agile, and adaptive, and has the moral decorum to surpass the possible worse case scenarios of future.

Mr. David Illah is a social entrepreneur, and founder of SCORE Community Based Organization. He is pursuing MA in Sociology at Pwani University, Kenya. (For feedback, reach him via

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