A Ksh1.5 billion European Union (EU) fund intends to impart 24000 women and youth self help groups with financial aid aimed at enhancing food production .
It is expected to create of 17,000 job opportunities.
The county governments and Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at accelerating the engagement of women and youth in agribusiness activities.
Women and youth self help groups were called to apply after-which their portfolios would be vetted. A suitable candidate would then be enrolled into the program. Qualified members would be trained on book keeping, entrepreneurship and investor-readiness.
“This programme is a timely intervention for the women and youth of Kenya. AgriBiz will channel resources to a crucial sector to provide meaningful and quality job creation opportunities for them, in a high potential sector such as agribusiness,” stated EU Ambassador Simon Mordue .
“Youth bring with them innovative ideas 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,” added Mordue.
The program dubbed Agribiz will provide investor-readiness training which is intended to enable members to expand their operations via value addition and enrolment of more members.
Most-promising groups will also receive grants from the project and additional assistance in launching their ideas to market.
Residents of Machakos, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and 21 other counties are set to benefit from the program.
The competition has been divided into four regions where Machakos co-ordinates applications from Makeuni, Kajiado and Kitui while Kisii receives applications from Nyamira, Kericho, Kisumu, Migori, Homabay, Bomet and Narok.
Uasin Gishu will cover Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot while Isiolo will cover Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu.
The county governments will also work with KCIC to promote agribusiness ventures through inclusive policies.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae spoke during the signing ceremony expressing his excitement that the AgriBiz programme intervention would help address the challenge of low youth involvement in agriculture , increase employment and provide support to improve areas under high value crops, livestock and fisheries, which will empower youth and women in the counties
In addition to the capacity-building activities, the AgriBiz Programme will also provide support in identifying market opportunities and value-adding activities, building links to markets and gaining access to financial support.
The AgriBiz kitty that will be supplemented by an additional Sh17.1 billion in loans is to be implemented in the next five years.
Danish Ambassador to Kenya Ole Thonke stated, “If we want young people and women to engage meaningfully in agriculture, then we have to make agriculture profitable.”
“And for agriculture to be profitable, it has to be productive. Facilitating access to productive resources will allow youth and women to increase the productivity of agriculture and that is critical,” he added.
The face behind the program the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), expressed their commitment in assisting the successful applicants to commercialize and develop their ideas into sustainable industries that will not only improve on food security, but will also provide sustainable jobs to many.
KCIC chief executive Edward Mungai, emphasized the project’s aim at creating job opportunities in the agribusiness value chain disclosing that the applications would be open on March 12.
“There’s a silent revolution taking place in Kenya with hundreds of young people and women farmers abandoning traditional ways of farming in favor of innovation and technology-led farming and this is what this program will augment.”
KCIC will provide business advisory services and support the enterprises access financing both from within and from external sources as well.
The AgriBiz call is also open to individuals, community-based organizations as well as SMEs that operate at different levels of animal and crops value chains.