Unemployment among graduates is increasing each year as universities churn out more fresh batch of job-seekers that far outstrip the jobs in the market. The situation is made worse by the fact that many of the graduates lack skills required by the market.
Over 10,000 graduates enter the job market annually, meaning that government and the private sector need to be creating about the same number of jobs, which is not possible. It is for this and other reasons that self-employment becomes the most ideal and sustainable tool that could help reduce unemployment among educated youth.
Experts say it is essential that students in higher institutions of learning become innovative and start small income-generating ventures while still in school, which they can build on after graduation.
Whether one is passionate about entrepreneurship or not, it is wise not to wait for the day one completes their studies to start job-hunting or thinking about setting up a business.
If you have a business idea, share it with like-minded colleagues to refine it before you implement it, according to Victor Nyindi, a senior consultant at Hooza Media Convergence.
Nyindi also says the challenge of balancing studies and business should not be an obstacle for one to startup their own enterprise.
He notes that one should not wait until they complete university as that might be too late since you are not a monopoly to innovation and thinking.
Students should get involved in entrepreneurship activities because you never know that one might even meet their future business partner. Such activities also help develop student’s entrepreneurship, as well as communication, and presentation skills.
Getting a business idea should not be a problem since one can use the skills they already have and venture into that area. For instance, technology students can open repair units for computers or phones, and other electronics from the hostel rooms.
A student studying fine art can venture into an art and crafts business or offer advisory services in these areas; they can also start an art studio, something that does not require a lot of money to start.
One can start a small stationery shop offering services like typesetting, photocopier, papers and other small items. You can also sell airtime and help people to send or receive money on any of the three mobile telecom networks.
Many students own laptops, and with affordable Internet almost everywhere, one can start a bureau to help businesses file the tax returns or those who want to access government services or register new enterprises. So, the problem of lack of money should not be that much of an excuse for one to venture into business while at university as most of these and many others can be opened with as little as Rwf10,000.
What is important is a good idea, execution as well as having the right attitude, commitment to work hard and grow the business.
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Nyindi says there will also be other facilities to help you implement the venture as a student, especially when you seek advice from business mentors, or use the library to research on your business idea. You can also choose to join business societies where you can be able to find other like-minded entrepreneurs with whom you can share ideas he adds.
Students need to understand that, whatever business one initiates, they will have to consider their community’s needs and involvement before they invest.
“While at it, control the cash and reinvest in the business so that by the end of the four-year course, the business has grown and is sustainable. This will give you a launch pad to even expand more since you will be doing it full time,” Nyindi says.
Eddie Mugarura, a business and investment consultant, says starting an own business as a student is more flexible, more rewarding compared to working for others on a part-time job.
“Instead of looking for jobs, university students are better off using part of their pocket money to start income-generating projects where they can devote most of the free time to ensure the enterprises are profitable,” he says.
Mugarura says university timetables are usually flexible, giving students enough time to attend to their businesses.
“Lectures take about six hours per week or at most less in some cases providing weekends plus at least 10hrs per week. He advises students to use available resources in terms of skills, physical labour and contacts, and avoid hiring workers at the initial stages of the enterprise.
“Turning small amounts into a big business is what makes a person a good entrepreneur. So, you do not need millions to start and instead of looking for jobs you can concentrate on your small project; when it succeeds, this will reduce the financial burden from your family and relatives,” he says.