By : Emily Mikwa
One hundred youths in Kisumu County yesterday graduated after successfully completing their training in a three-day business development boot camp and a 3 months business mentorship and coaching program.
The program dubbed Jiinue Business accelerator, supported by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in partnership with I Choose Life Africa (ICLA) and the County Government of Kisumu, is one of the initiatives under the UN Covid -19 response and recovery strategy. It is meant to support recovery by developing young entrepreneurs that will actualize the transformation from start up to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The focus of this program is to sharpen the soft skills of the youths to increase their employability and entrepreneurial success along the three value chains: fish, poultry and indigenous vegetables, which are integral in youth empowerment program on matters economic, social, cultural and political transformation that the county aspires to achieve.
The Chief officer Agriculture and Irrigation, Dr. Paul Omanga who represented Governor Nyong’o presided over the graduation ceremony at the Imperial hotel in Kisumu. He thanked the partners for their support in capacity building of the youths in Kisumu, migori and Turukana. Terming it an opening to he world.
He implored on the youths that they are today’s leaders by what they do now. He called on them to remain committed to what they have learnt and that which they are doing because the government only provides an enabling environment for them to grow.
Recalling that in the recent past agriculture was left for the elderly who only plant, harvest and sell, he challenged the youths to exploit employment opportunities within the value chain nodes. He reiterated that agriculture being one of the pillars of Kenyan economy, it still remains the sector that employs about 75% of the people.
He further advised them to focus on individual entrepreneurship and go the Public private youth partnerships to grow their businesses.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Director, Social Sector, Policy and Strategy Unit, Executive office of the President Ms. Elizabeth Mueni Kimulu said through the Generation unlimited, they have been able to catalyze those with the mandate to work with young people to create opportunities.
She said globally there is a crisis on the issue of the young people, they create a bulge of the population without jobs or livelihood posing a challenge. In Kenya she says ages between 18- 34 forms 75% of the population. If such population is not used wisely then crisis develop.
Ms. Elizabeth said Generation Unlimited was formed during the UN Global Champion of young people agenda, where the President was identified as the leader at the global level. Their mandate is to ensure by 2030, the young ones between the ages of 10-24 are in educational training or employment.
To achieve this, she said the focus is on four key issues: initiating innovative solutions for the youths, accelerating or scaling up what is already working for them, identifying challenges and barriers then work on them and also co – creating with young people by understanding their needs and knowing how to deal with them in order to realize their potential and contribute to the society.
The FAO Inclusive value Chains Sub Programs Leader, Mr. Tito Arunga, thanked the partners for the role played in mentoring the youths. He said the FAOR is passionate about investing in young people right from their childhood hence their participation in the revival of the 4 K Clubs in schools currently involved in environmental conservation.
He noted with concern the unprecedented challenges such as drought, high food prices and costly inputs that they are currently looking into with the government.
Mr. Arunga reiterated that the partnership with Kisumu County Government has been great in impacting in the livelihood of the people in the region. Particularly the significant investment in the young people that will translate into income, employment and improvement in productivity that will deal with the deficit.
He thanked the CEO Youth Enterprise Development fund for making it easier for the youths to access funds that will enable them grow their businesses.
He challenged the youths to make exploit the opportunities brought by crises in order to provide solutions
Going forward, Mr. Arunga said FAO is committed to expand youth programs. They have embarked on modalities to raise resources for the same. He called for a concerted effort and inclusive engagement of all stakeholders involved in Agri food systems.
On his part, the CEO Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Mr. Benson Muthendi explained to the youths the significant role played by enterprise in uniting people across all walks of life.
He told thee youths to make use of the opportunities they get to make a difference since we live in unprecedented times where such are scarce. He challenged them to use technology to access information and link with clients.
Mr. Muthendi also took them through the loan products they can access to grow their businesses.
The Chief Executive Officer, I Choose Life Africa, Eng. Mike Mutungi thanked the partners for their support, especially FAO for the financial support.
He highlighted the mandate of ICLA that seeks to empower youth in Kenya and across Africa as the foundation for sustainable development. Driven by, the vision“Healthy Africa, Empowered People” with a mission,“To improve the life opportunities of youth aged 10 – 24 through strategic empowerment for sustainable development”.
It is a youth-focused organization partnering with the Government of Kenya, through the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Youth Affairs and Vision 2030 among others, Corporate, Universities and Civil Society Organizations, to design interventions to solve problems in different communities.
He challenged the youths to unlock different value chins to make progress in business development. He underscored the significance of enterprise development in changing the country. He said knowledge on enterprise development, ICT and digital marketing should be inculcated in the lives of young people at an early age.
The event was marked with different activities such as presentations by groups on value chain SWOT analysis, exhibitions, presentation of certificates and cake cutting.
Also gracing the occasion were: Chairperson Kisumu County Youth in Agribusiness Strategy (2022-2027) Mr. George Abwajo, Kisumu Youth President Mr. Sylvance Ahere, youth representatives from Migori and Turukana,, a host of county officials among other stakeholders.