Popular wisdom says that children are our future and the solution for giving them a good material life is educating them the best we can. But it’s not totally true. I’ve learned that on this trip to Nairobi.
I’ve probably met 100 people since arriving and I’ve heard a similar theme from adults throughout the time: “I have a degree but I can’t find work.”
Here are some of the dudes I’ve hung with who fit that category… From left to right… Daniel, 24. Paul, 31, Mechanical Engineer. Peter and Steve, both 29, Electronic Repair.
Day after day, these guys are out hustling trying to find work but they come up empty-handed most of the month. They have legit, employable skills but they’re unemployed/underemployed.
So the idea that we can educate today’s youth in the majority world (countries like Kenya) and expect it will fix their situations isn’t true for many. And by many, I mean millions and millions and millions of people. My boys here have had educational opportunity but they have almost no employment opportunity. So what can be done?
There are three broad avenues to employment:
- Government – through policy and direct employment in civil service
- Public companies
- Private companies
All these guys are primarily looking for employment through existing public and private companies. But there are no jobs to be had. Government jobs are coveted but slim, sometimes requiring a bribe of some sort. My friends seem stuck. But they’re not. One option: they could start their own companies. The problem is they have no money. They’re truly broke.
NO FIFTH AVENUE
These guys can’t go down to some big bank and ask for a small business loan because banks require collateral for loans and pretty much all these dudes own are a few shirts and a few pairs of pants. Not exactly what banks are looking for.
HELP FROM THE WEST
What could we do as wealthy Americans? Well, we could loan them the money. But if a bank won’t loan them the money, why would we? It would be too risky. My bro Paul needs Kshs. 100,000 (about $1,250) to open a repair business. Suppose I loan him the $1,250 and he decides to throw a huge party in his community instead of using it for the business. I’ll never see that money again. I have no way to make him pay back the debt. And even if I did, he couldn’t make enough in his present condition to pay me back in his lifetime.
HELP FROM WITHIN
Now it seems like WE’RE stuck. But we’re not. Here’s one solution: savings groups.
Savings groups are groups of people in a community who work together to determine who should be given loans and who shouldn’t. These are local community members who each contribute money into a loan account and then collectively make decisions about where to invest that money. Because they understand their culture and business environment, they’re in a perfect position to make informed decisions. They also have incentive to make good loans because THEIR money is the money being loaned out. Finally, the person taking the loan KNOWS the people he’s taking the loan from. It’s very personal.
So instead of a traditional loan where financial capital is used to back the loan (in the form of collateral), it’s social capital that guarantees a savings group loan. Default on the loan and you essentially default on your position in the community. It’s peer pressure being used to maintain and build social order rather than destroy it.
In light of this, I want to remind myself of something here.
First, we need to love God with our minds more. We need to realize that fixing poverty isn’t only about our hearts feeling something. Our minds have to be locked into the issues and understand the landscape of why people are poor and how they get out of poverty.
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Second, we need to love God with our souls more. Many jobs can be created at the government level and we need to pray for the governments of the countries we deeply care about. Corruption is a huge issue in many countries. Leaders around the world need to be both good and wise to help their people. And we should pray for that regularly! I hadn’t prayed for the government of Kenya even a single time on this trip before today.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior.
_1 Timothy 2:1-3
It says the goal is to have lives that are “godly and dignified in every way.” How beautiful! Oh, that God would help us and the leaders of countries around the world to bring a godly and dignified life to every human being on this planet.