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Kenya’s youth initiatives capture regional interest

By Jackson Okoth | Jul 15th 2014 | 2 min read
By Jackson Okoth | July 15th 2014

Nairobi, Kenya: Kenya will next week host an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) on youth unemployment at the Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel in Nairobi.

The meeting, which will run from July 19 to July 22, will feature representatives from the 12 countries that comprise the Great Lakes region: Angola, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Zambia, South Sudan, Sudan, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya.

The focus of the conference, expected to be attended by heads of state of these nations, will be youth empowerment and unemployment, with a case study on Kenya. The country was chosen as the location for the conference owing to its efforts to empower the youth.

At present, the Government has set up the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and Uwezo Fund, as well as deployed the National Youth Service to create more opportunities for young people.

“We have so far disbursed over Sh10 billion to over 300 youth-owned enterprises across the country. Some of these enterprises have grown and are now employing many Kenyans as well as contributing to the Exchequer. These efforts have resulted in the creation of about one million jobs,” YEDF CEO Catherine Namuye told Business Beat.

According to its latest report, YEDF has trained more than 300,000 youth in entrepreneurship and facilitated their access to markets. It has also helped 12,000 young people find employment outside the country.

“Due to its success, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund has become a case study in Africa, with seven countries visiting to benchmark,” said Ms Namuye.

Economies in Africa and the Middle East are currently not expanding fast enough to absorb the large number of students coming out of schools into the job market.

Although it is only two months old, having been registered in June this year, the Uwezo Fund promises to be a game changer if it can be accessed by this group of graduates. The fund, a flagship programme for Vision 2030, is aimed at enabling women, youth and persons with disability access cash to fund businesses at the constituency level.

The fund also provides mentorship opportunities to enable beneficiaries take advantage of the 30 per cent Government procurement preference.

The cash is disbursed on a first-come-first-served basis, subject to assessment and approval of the loan by a committee. Eligible qualifying amounts for a group are a minimum of Sh50,000 and a maximum of Sh500,000.

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