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In the presence of youth, the older generation is either jittery or confident – depending on how their world view of youth is shaped.  It is not weird to hear the older generation lamenting about what has become of the youth in the current generation?  Suffice to say that some have even failed to understand how to refer to this group of people and decided to christen them as Generation Z.

Whether it is a matter of failure to identify with the youth or an issue of comparisons with one’s experience in latter years is a debate for another day. However, the youth in any economy hold an important key that could open up the social and economic pillars of the society towards enhanced development.  It is this group that if properly nurtured will harness the available opportunities and propel their individual families, societies and countries to the next level.

While previously it is the older generation that bore the visions of communities, much has changed in the current millennium and millennials have become a force to reckon with, despite their uncertainty in matters that are otherwise norm for older generations.  The challenge then lies in understanding this group of key individuals and tapping into their energies by utilizing them positively to transform the society.

As the world celebrates the international day for Youth on Sunday the 12th of August 2018,  the theme for this year rings true to those who are endeared to the youth in their communities – Safe Spaces for Youth.  While a number have continued to embrace the wisdom of mentors and gone on to make something tangible of their lives, others have found themselves in the hands of the vice masters.

The outcome has seen the rise of youth gangs, engagement with militant groups, and other vices that continue to reign terror in society.  Yet the youth are in dire need of a clear mentorship to ensure that they understand the outcomes of their actions through bearing individual responsibility.  More and more youth are finding themselves on the wrong side of the law for being in the wrong company or engaging in the wrong business.

For some, the status quo has come about owing to their disadvantaged backgrounds, but for a significant percentage of them, it has been the deep desire to be part of the ‘cool gang’ thereby giving in to peer pressure rather than standing out and risk being ostracized.  The onus however remains on those whom the youth look up to for advise, direction and guidance to belabor the need to engage in meaningful activities.

Statistics are now indicating that at least 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 25 years with Africa alone expecting to host some one billion young people on the continent by the year 2050.  Similarly, some 60% of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18 by the year 2030, and according to UN-Habitat’s report on residency for the year 2013, most of them will be living in slums and informal settlements.

With this consideration, then it becomes necessary for stakeholders – be they government or the private sector – to engage tactfully with the youth and provide avenues to utilize their skills, energies and innovations for the future.  While change will not come to all at once, one change a time means that impact will be felt on any youth interacting with the one who has been empowered.

At the Optiven Group for example, we have rolled out various programmes touching on empowerment of the youth including the Soaring Eagles, the Optiven Nests as we target to make some 1 million entrepreneurs from the latter.  We are also on course to provide at least 30,000 employment opportunities by the year 2030.  We appreciate that we cannot do this alone, and are grateful for the partners who have joined us in making this a reality, although we need more.  To the youth, now is your time, understand the season and seize the moment.

George Wachiuri is an Entrepreneur, a Philanthropist, a Motivational Speaker and the CEO, Optiven Group. To get more details on how you can invest with Optiven Ltd. Kindly talk to us via 0702 831083 , 0738 831083, Email;  Website:

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