A new project that is set to boost business and employment opportunities for thousands of young people in the agricultural sector in Kalifi and Nakuru countie was yesterday launched in Nairobi.
Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) is a joint project implemented by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the USTADI Foundation, with funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project will directly benefit up to 150 youth groups, many led by women, comprising more than 1,000 small agribusinesses and 2250 youth.
Vijabiz aims to promote innovative, attractive and sustainable employment for youth by providing training, coaching and mentoring in the entrepreneurship and business skills needed to develop and run successful agricultural enterprises. The initial focus will be on cereals, dairy and fishery value chains.
Agriculture is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, contributing over half of the country’s gross domestic product, but young people often prefer white-collar jobs in urban areas. Youth – those aged between 15 and 35 years – already account for more than 35% of the country’s population and 60% of its workforce, but 20% to 30% of them are unemployed, compared with a national average of only 10% unemployment. And another million young people enter the job market each year.
Michael Hailu, CTA Director: “Youth bring with them innovative ideas, ready uptake of technological know-how and a willingness to take risks. But what they often lack is access to the skills, knowledge and resources they need to make use of these talents. This project will make a significant contribution to increasing employment, enhancing food security and alleviating poverty.”
Maureen Mwangovya, Minister in Charge of Youth and Gender, Kilifi County: “Youth involvement in agriculture has been low, among both males and females. This is mainly due to a negative attitude towards agriculture. Vijabiz’s intervention will help address this challenge, increase employment and provide support to develop ICT in agriculture, which will empower youth in the counties.”
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In addition to the capacity-building activities, Vijabiz will provide support in identifying market opportunities and value-adding activities, building links to markets and gaining access to financial support. Professional agricultural organisations and incubators will play a key role in mentoring and incubating the nascent agribusinesses. The most-promising groups will receive grants from the project and additional assistance in taking their ideas to market.
Digitalisation will be a core theme of the project, with support provided on integrating digital solutions into business operations. Access to finance will also be leveraged using digital solutions. Knowledge generated will be captured and shared with other young agripreneurs and youth programmes at the national level and beyond.
The project’s inception workshop took place at the Sarova Panafric Hotel, Nairobi, on 28 August 2018, followed by an official launch on 29 August 2018. The workshop and launch were attended by local and national officials, the IFAD Country Director, representatives of the European Union delegation in Kenya, youth agribusinesses and other civil society and private sector organisations involved in the cereals, dairy, fisheries and ICT sectors in Kenya.