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Sh5b agribiz programme to fund women, youth projects

BUSINESS
By James Wanzala | February 28th 2021
An exhibitor shows some of her innovation to a delegation led by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua.

The youth and women in agribusiness stand to benefit from a Sh5 billion donor-funded programme in Machackos, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo counties. The beneficiaries have been urged to apply for the opportunities.

Successful applicants will benefit from training, business advisory and financing to promote sustainable use of natural resources and encourage appropriate agribusiness practices.

This will be provided through business hubs set up in the counties, which will offer advice to selected agri-businesses. Applicants from neighbouring can also apply.

AgriBiz is funding 2,400 women and youth-led agribusinesses over a period of five years at a cost of Sh5.1 billion.

An additional Sh17.1 billion in loans will be pooled from local financial institutions to support the enterprises.

The launch event was hosted by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua last week and attended by the European Union Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue, Danida Deputy Head of Cooperation in Kenya Henrik Larsen and Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) Chief Executive Edward Mungai, among other officials.

The initiative targets individuals, community-based organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises in different levels of animal and crops value chains.

Ambassador Mordue hailed the programme as an innovative way of supporting the value chain in agriculture.

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“The overall objective of the programme is not just the growing of crops or rearing of animals, but improvement of livelihoods because AgriBiz will unlock a lot of potential in the agricultural sector that is hitherto untapped,” he said.

“We therefore encourage youth and women with innovative ideas to apply and get support," he said.

The programme has so far admitted applicants from Kiambu, Bungoma, Meru and surrounding counties as well as a national cohort being supported from the head office at Strathmore University.

It targets to create 17,000 jobs in the agricultural sector, particularly for youth and women. It also aims to increase smallholder production, improve food security and boost household incomes.

“Launching the programme in these counties is an opportunity to create livelihood for women and youth which will also support the entire family,” Mr Larsen said.

“There are numerous opportunities within the AgriBiz programme that if taken advantage of, will shift the economic status of these counties and their residents to an upward trajectory,” he said.

The four target counties are endowed with abundant natural resources and diverse ecosystems which include large-scale tracts of land, good soil structures and improving infrastructure.

“There are hundreds of youth and women agri-preneurs in this country who I am hoping will immensely benefit from this programme. The benefit will not be just to these people, but you will note the thousands in this region who will be reached by the ripple effect,” Governor Mutua said.

“My administration is ready to support and ensure success of the programme. I am calling upon all youth and women to take advantage of this and explore innovative ways to practise agribusiness,” he added.

The four county governments plan to leverage on skills of young people to make agriculture smart and profitable.

Since Kenya is largely an agricultural country, investments in SMEs in the agribusiness sector will also help the economy bounce back from Covid-19, the officials said.

KCIC’s Dr Mungai said agribusiness has potential to create sustainable jobs for youth and women in the agriculture value chain.

“The niche in agribusiness is that it embraces the whole ecosystem and it is the foundation of all the other industries,” he said.

“Through this programme, we are committed to assist the successful applicants commercialise and develop their ideas into sustainable industries that will not only improve food security but also provide sustainable jobs,” he said.

Applicants can now access the application portal via the programme’s portal or they can drop filled forms at the business incubation hubs in their respective counties.

The applications are open until March 12 after which successful applicants will be contacted.

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