A World Bank-backed youth business competition to tackle unemployment in Kenya has been launched.
Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Country Director for Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, told journalists in Nairobi that the Bretton Woods institution has set aside Ksh 1.38 billion for the MbelenaBiz Business Plan Competition that will provide grants to 750 beneficiaries.
“MbelenaBiz does not target unemployed youth directly, it targets promising youth entrepreneurs who have a business idea or an existing business to support them with large business grants, with the ultimate objective to create jobs for other youth,” Jaramillo said.
He observed that the competition which runs throughout the country and has special efforts to target women entrepreneurs who often shy away from participating in business competitions.
Jaramillo added that the contest will award grants of between Ksh 898,396 (US$8,755) and Ksh 3.6 million (US$35,000) to winners, noting that Kenya has witnessed progress in terms of youth employment in the past ten years.
According to the World Bank official, the number of formal jobs created are not enough to match the increasing working age population.
“About 800,000 youth enter the workforce each year but only about 100,000 formal jobs are created,” he noted.
“As a result, a lot of youth are working a few hours a week, or they are working in low productivity jobs. None of these allow them to make a good living or contribute significantly to the economy,” Jaramillo noted.
Jaramillo said that the business competition draws on similar business plan competitions like the YouWin competition that was done in Nigeria.