Navigating Precarious Livelihoods: Youth in the SME Sector in Zimbabwe

Volume 49 Number 5
Published: November 27, 2018
Since the late 1990s, Zimbabwe has experienced a protracted socioeconomic and political crisis. This crisis was marked by unprecedented unemployment rates, company closures, retrenchments, and rapid informalisation. In the face of employment uncertainties, many youth joined the burgeoning small and medium enterprises (SME) sector. This article explores private SME growth in Harare and shows how it enables young people to navigate the unemployment crisis. Based on the lived experiences of youth working in the retail and clothing SME sector in Harare, the article argues that young people deploy their agency and resourcefulness in grappling with unemployment by devising creative and inventive ways of ‘getting by’ through engagement with SMEs. Although SME sector growth can help create employment for youth, the nexus is complex. Both the number and quality of jobs created remain problematic. The SME sector is also politically sensitive, so young people have to navigate partisan politics as well.


  • Agriculture
  • Youth
  • Unemployment
From Issue: Vol. 49 No. 5 (2018) | Youth Employment and the Private Sector in Africa