Innovative Use of Participatory Research Method: Photo Elicitation in Youth Entrepreneurship

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7 months ago
In recent years, the quest to enhance youth entrepreneurship has gained momentum globally, with a particular focus on developing countries like Kenya. However, despite numerous initiatives and programs, the transition from entrepreneurship education to practical and successful business ventures remains a significant challenge. Youth-led enterprises have shown high potential but face hurdles in creation, innovation, and sustainability. Entrepreneurship education, a critical enabler, often falls short in integrating practical elements essential for real-world application. As a result, many youths struggle to translate their learning into successful entrepreneurial practices. In the dynamic landscape of youth-led enterprises, understanding the nuances of their experiences is crucial for fostering sustainable growth and innovation. Through participatory research methodology, specifically photo elicitation, we gain a deeper insight into the lives of young entrepreneurs, revealing their challenges, motivations, and the effectiveness of current entrepreneurship training programs.

The Essence of Participatory Research in Youth Entrepreneurship

Our approach centers on capturing the lived experiences of youth-led enterprises. By engaging 68 participants from diverse educational and demographic backgrounds, we delve into the intricacies of their entrepreneurial journey. These young entrepreneurs, equipped with cameras, document their daily business activities, challenges, and triumphs, offering an unfiltered view into their world. The participants, comprising 45 university graduates, 10 diploma holders, and 13 with secondary or primary education, employed photography to articulate their entrepreneurial paths. This visual narrative encompasses the joys and hurdles of starting and running a business, the impact of formal and informal education, and visions for future growth.
In accompanying self-reflection workshops, participants narrated their entrepreneurial stories, fostering a shared understanding of how education and training programs have influenced their businesses. These discussions illuminated gaps in current training programs and led to proposals for redesigning entrepreneurship education to better serve their needs. This approach offered a unique insight into the lived realities of young entrepreneurs, highlighting their challenges and triumphs in a tangible, visual format. Our findings illuminated various intrinsic and extrinsic factors motivating youth entrepreneurship, such as financial independence, unemployment, and community needs. Notably, while many participants had undergone entrepreneurship training, they found it overly theoretical, lacking in practical skills essential for real-world business application. A critical observation was the disconnect between classroom learning and practical entrepreneurship. This mismatch highlighted the need for a more hands-on, practical-oriented curriculum that incorporates elements like peer mentorship, online marketing, and continuous self-growth opportunities. Another significant finding was the siloed operation of entrepreneurship ecosystem players, leading to disjointed knowledge and skill development programs. This lack of coordination often results in unsustainable youth enterprises. The photo elicitation method proved instrumental in identifying these gaps. By visually capturing their entrepreneurial journey, youths could articulate specific areas where current education and training programs fell short, paving the way for targeted improvements. Based on these insights, a gap analysis of existing entrepreneurship curriculums was conducted. This led to the identification of skill, knowledge, and practice gaps, which can now be addressed in curriculum redesign efforts. The use of photo elicitation in researching youth entrepreneurship represents a significant stride in participatory research methods. It not only gives a voice to young entrepreneurs but also provides a vivid, authentic perspective on the challenges and opportunities they face. This approach can guide the development of more effective, practical, and impactful entrepreneurship education, ultimately fostering a more vibrant and successful youth entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kenya and beyond.

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