Safaricom’s youth network BLAZE has signed up close to 900,000 subscribers, most of them from its normal 26m subscriber count but the firm is targeting more youths to join the sub-brand with the launch of a new reality TV series dubbed Blaze BYOB TV.

Targeting the youth between 19 and 26, the BLAZE BYOB TV, will premiere on Monday 6th February 2017 on KTN, a local TV station. The firm is working with Mandala TV to produce and air the content. Safaricom and Mandala TV have selected participants from Nairobi, Rift Valley, Central, Western and Coast regions to achieve its maximum marketing effect and appeal to more youth.

“Every year, over 800,000 young men and women enter a job market that can only provide employment to less than an eighth of them. We must find a solution to the challenge of youth unemployment by encouraging them to embrace entrepreneurship and create jobs,” said Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore during the launch of the TV show.

Safaricom believes the Be Your Own Boss  TV series will empower the youth to be job creators in a country where 60% of the unemployed are youth. Saafricom has picked celebrity and entrepreneurial judges whom the Kenyan youth can relate to.

With 12 contestants, the TV series will be on air for a period of eight weeks, and contestants will be eliminated each week, with the overall winner bagging a grand prize of KES 5 million that includes KES 3 million in start-up capital and the remainder in the form of mentorship, financial advice and business support from Safaricom and various partners.  Others will each receive a consolation prize that will go towards supporting their businesses upon elimination.

Though the show has been praised for its youthful flare, critics say Safaricom is fishing from its own pond and is only impressing the youth who are its own customers without little impact to the competition. The only thing the show will achieve is giving the youth a chance to run their own businesses just like KCB’s Lion’s Den reality TV show has done.