3rd December 2022

Youth and Saving: Tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper

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In 2012, findings by info Dev Publication prepared by iHub Research and Research Solutions Africa showed that Kenyan youth spend the biggest portion of their income on mobile phone airtime and trendy clothing.

The Mobile Usage at the Base of the Pyramid in Kenya, findings showed that youth aged between 16 and 24 are constantly on their cell phones – texting and surfing the Internet – and send an average of 250 short text messages daily.

However, the most interesting bit in the findings is how they sourced for the money as illustrated below the table.
It is interesting to note that greater percentage use of money earned from formal employment and savings from business is an expenditure.

In contrast, the youth are embracing a world of connectivity. Technology is helping the youth reconnect the dots in their life. It enables them to stay in touch with what’s happening in the lives of people who matter to them. It allows them to voluntarily express their views on what they like, what they dislike and what they want. It helps them create, control and contribute to a body of knowledge.

However, it is in the same technological era where economic prosperity is becoming harder to attain than ever before, it is even more of a climb for the youth. The youth crave to become rich. The changing lifestyles that are full of clamor and great promising, the flashing lights, the latest rides, the trendy fashion scenes all appeal to the youth who crave it.

Wealth allows not only the youth to save, retire happy, pay off debts, invest in educational opportunities, start a new business, and to leave funds for future generations. Every youth in Kenya deserves the opportunity to the pursuit of happiness and to help build a strong Kenyan economy now and in the future.

It reminds me of Aesop’s fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper.

The fable says:

In a field one summer’s day, a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content.  An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present.”  
But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.  When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer.  
Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

An economic opportunity should not only be for those that are already privileged but also those who seek a new life and ultimately control over their own economic destiny.

This is what the youth in Kenya should understand. The opportunity to network and connect, to spend on airtime and bundles is a perfect opportunity for stakeholders to use such and push the agenda of where the youth can share their experiences on how to save and generate revenue as they have fun as this is the best way to reach out to the youth.

These statistics are key as they help us to identify means and methods on how to reach out to the youth. Too many young people, the world of politics seems far removed from their daily realities of school commitments, leisure activities, and employment challenges.

Many youths fail to see a connection between these realities and the impact of public policies on their lives.

Inculcating a saving culture among the youth is all about discipline. How can one appreciate the essence of saving, say KES 50 a day to be able to generate revenue that can buy shares et al. reaching out to the youth needs to be done on their own terms in their own environment.

At a personal level, youth will tend to organize themselves into groups or merry go rounds to help them save; little does one know that charity begins at home. What are the available opportunities around?

The quest to create a bigger pool of opportunity for youth who seek to earn should always be the main objective as Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in a letter from a Birmingham City Jail:  “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability…We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to right.”