A qualitative study on the lived experiences of young entrepreneurs participating in the futuristic Uber business model
Although youth unemployment remains a challenge globally, African countries are banking on business innovation to promote entrepreneurship. This means that governments are encouraging business innovation at the individual level through start – ups or by providing tax relief to innovative business ventures such as Uberx an international taxi company which is willing to support the Entrepreneurial aspirations of the youth by providing them a chance at employment using a public private partnership model (PPP).Recent research in developing countries reveals that through PPP, governments are providing possibilities to the large number of unemployed youth through diversified work opportunities enabling them reverse their situations. The expectation is that, for youth in developing countries engaging in business partnership reduces the risk of failure in business, mitigates youth vulnerability to social problems arising from unemployment and provides credible foundation to those seeking alternative avenues of employment as entrepreneurs. Among many existing innovations that are receiving support from national governments are the public private partnerships (PPPs) seeking to provide solutions to problems of infrastructure such as transport.This phenomenological study focuses on the lived experiences of previously unemployed entrepreneurs engaging in the Uberx taxi service. The purpose of this master‟s project is to explore;-Why youth entrepreneurs are attracted to the Uberx business model,How the young entrepreneurs perceive their role in the PPP,How the unmet expectations of the youth entrepreneur are rationalized by the Uberx business model,The challenges sustainability of the Uberx model and the existing semi structured business environment.The study examines the characteristics of the Kenyan entrepreneur, the opportunities offered to the entrepreneur as a partner in the PPP, employee satisfaction in the relationship with Uberx and the reality of the PPP as a possible solution to the unemployment problem. Using the qualitative research methodology, specifically the phenomenological approach which focuses on the individual “lived experience”, the researcher interviewed 30 Uber taxi drivers in Nairobi county who had been previously unemployed and entered into the partnership for at least 3 months. An interview schedule guide based on Peter Drucker‟s (1985) opportunity based theory was used to frame this research underscoring the PPP relationship. Major themes indicated the reality of the partnership between the young entrepreneurs and Uberx specifically, a gender imbalance in entrepreneurs engagement with Uberx, pull factors and high confidence levels because of an elevation in basic livelihood impermanence of the engagement impacting the operations of Uberx drivers.The finding of the study suggests that, despite a narrow understanding of an entrepreneur‟s opportunities in a PPP, Uberx provides a working solution to young entrepreneurs in Kenya willing to reduce business risk by partnering with a PPP, it meets their basic socio-economic needs by providing adequate income to elevate their livelihood, it boosts “employee” confidence levels, it is supported by the government‟s business protection plans and is sustainable as an innovative venture because of its use of modern technology applications. This being an exploratory study, further research is recommended in this emerging area of employment models that are technology based in an African context where unemployment remains high and entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities to partner and innovate. Specifically research could include; a gender analysis to expose the gender specific needs of entrepreneurs, the link between employment opportunities available to entrepreneurs and sustainable incomes, reduced tolerance for entrepreneurs to vocalize dissatisfaction and the role of globalization in supporting youth entrepreneurs.
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