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Kenyan youth groups selected for a new agribusiness development project

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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation’s (CTA) joint project with the USTADI Foundation – Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) – has selected 166 youth groups to receive capacity building and financial support. The membership of the selected youth groups total 2,373 young farmers, who will be the beneficiaries of the project being implemented in Kilifi and Nakuru counties in Kenya between 2018 and 2020.

Vijabiz intends to build and strengthen sustainable youth-led enterprises through collaboration with innovative financial service providers; creation of market linkages; integration of digital technologies; and improvement of business management capacity. After the inception and launch workshop in Nairobi on 28-29 August 2018, the project carried out a campaign to recruit youth groups, which targeted both youth cooperatives and youth-led enterprises in the dairy, cereals and fisheries sectors.

Initially, awareness creation workshops were conducted in Kilifi and Nakuru counties to inform the relevant stakeholders about the Vijabiz project and how to apply. In total, 651 stakeholders participated in the workshops held in 18 sub counties. In addition, the project was promoted via different media outlet. The selection criteria for youth groups was shared in the print and radio adverts, as well as on social media. The youth groups have different institutional profiles, from self-help groups to cooperatives. They involve hundreds of many micro-enterprises.

An application form was developed for youth groups to apply either by hardcopy or online. The project received 550 applications from youth groups, 227 SurveyMonkey applications, 139 email applications and 184 hardcopy applications. The applications were technically evaluated to ensure the youth groups matched the specified criteria. After the technical evaluation, 343 youth groups (231 in Nakuru county and 112 in Kilifi county) were shortlisted for organisational capacity assessment.

Field visits were conducted to each of the 343 shortlisted youth groups to verify their eligibility for the project and identify the skills and capacity gaps that Vijabiz could help to address. The field visits enabled Vijabiz to select the final 166 youth groups that will participate in the project. The groups were selected to represent the diversity of young people in the two Kenyan counties. Apart from ensuring that youth groups operate in dairy, cereals or fisheries value chains, it was also compulsory for the selected youth groups to have no less than 30% female membership. At least one group was selected from each of the 18 sub counties, and the size of the youth groups selected, ranged from 19 to 358 members. It is expected that the representatives of each youth group will transfer the knowledge that they acquire through Vijabiz training to their group members, helping to ensure all 2,373 young farmers benefit.

Some of the selected youth groups demonstrated that they were already doing excellent work. For instance, Kibao Kiche Fish Farmers in Kaloleni, Kilifi county, have a fish pond where they obtain fingerlings from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MOALF) and breed fish. Elsewhere, Umoja Youth Group in Kilifi North and Dundori Stars Youth Group in Bahati, Nakuru, manufacture and sell yoghurt locally. Speak Youth Group, from Kilifi county, has partnered with Equatorial Natural Millings Company to process fortified maize flour. The Group then package the maize flour, which is mixed with rice, bran, cinnamon, Amarathus and pumpkin seeds, before selling it at local markets.

All groups will benefit additional capacity building and support to scale-up. The most promising will receive grants and assistance from Vijabiz to take their products to market. Rewards are planned for 71 youth groups, of value ranging from $1,000 to 22,000. Even groups that will not benefit from these rewards will be mentored throughout the entire project to help them grow. With support from professional agricultural organisations and incubators involved in the Vijabiz project, the capacities of these youth groups to leverage market and value addition opportunities will be improved.

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