The German company MentorMe has invested 18 million shillings (150,000 euros) in a pilot program connecting job seekers and entrepreneurs with mentors in Kenya and Germany.
MentorMe Kenya has partnered with German Development Cooperation to offer a pool of mentors to help job seekers achieve their career goals and train managers of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The one-year pilot program aims to pair at least 200 job seekers and 300 MSME-owner managers with mentors.
“Mentees will be accompanied by their mentors from Germany and Kenya for ten months via Zoom, Skype and in person on site,” said Salline Handa, MentorMe Kenya program manager.
The cross-border mentorship that will initially be offered free of charge relies on matchmaking software that connects mentors and mentees from all fields and industries.
Kenya will be the launch pad for the program in Africa which began in Germany in 2015 and has since enabled 2,500 beneficiaries to achieve their career development and business growth goals.
The programme, also co-funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), will be implemented locally by the German Development Agency (GiZ).
“We are particularly looking for young people and women’s businesses that focus on the green economy to fight climate change,” said GiZ Country Director Bodo Immink.
The number of jobless Kenyans has doubled in a decade of infrastructure-fueled economic growth and faster technology adoption, which has left Kenya with the highest unemployment rate in the region.
World Bank data shows that 5.7% of Kenya’s workforce was unemployed in 2021, up from 2.8% when the Jubilee administration took over in 2013. The country’s economy has grown at an average of 5.0% since 2013, but that growth has come from capital-intensive infrastructure projects that haven’t reached the average person.
Small businesses have also experienced a high mortality rate, partly due to lack of access to credit to finance working capital, but also due to the inexperience of new entrepreneurs.