How youth can be a force for good

By Mike Ngwala
Published by Standard Digital News on February 18th 2016

The announcement of the disbursement of a whopping Sh21.6 billion to vulnerable groups across the country is a pointer that unemployment remains a big challenge in our society today.

Public Service, Youth and Gender Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki’s announcement indicates that with a proper awareness campaign, the funds disbursed so far can easily be doubled. But then, how does Government ensure that there is a constant flow of money for groups such as the Uwezo Fund, Youth Enterprise Fund and Women’s Enterprise Fund?
Of the Sh21.6 billion, the lion’s share, Sh10.1 billion went to the youth followed by women at Sh7.45 billion and Uwezo Fund got Sh4.5 billion. The disbursements have so far benefited 351,000 youth and women’s groups. Cumulatively, this covers more than nine million families. In other words, the Government has impacted tens of millions of Kenyans from all walks of life and political persuasions right across the nation.
These funds established by the Government several years ago, have not only made capital accessible to women and youth owned enterprises, but also extended free business training. Over the years, practical experience must have informed the Government that providing access to credit and financing, though critical, is not sufficient in spurring entrepreneurial development. The missing link has been the provision of access to markets and opportunities for trade. And therein lies the rub.
Kenya’s biggest demographic is its youth bulge (ages 15 to 24), the largest in its history, and the second biggest is women. No administration in Kenya can sit back and say it has successfully discharged its mandate if it does not address the needs, wants, aspirations and hopes of the youth and women who number nearly 30 million. With a predominantly youthful population of around 72 per cent under 35 years, any development programme cannot succeed unless it caters for the youth. What this means is that there is no linear path to enterprise development.
Research and profiling as well as active engagement with intended target groups are all critical to enterprise promotion policies and programmes. All these disbursements and initiatives across the country are addressing the needs of young Kenyans in such areas as lack of skills, particularly the mismatch between the skills acquired in colleges and those required by the labour market. Resolving this disconnect would go a long way toward tackling rising unemployment. Research shows that when the nation addresses various challenges and expands business opportunities for women and youth owned enterprises, it reduces the likelihood of household poverty. An overriding vision for the youth and women forms the the pillar of the ruling Jubilee coalition 2013 Manifesto.
It has been argued that resources in women’s hands have a range of positive outcomes for human capital and capabilities within a household. Research findings also suggest a strong rationale for ensuring women’s participation in growth.
And that access to economic resources by women often improves distributional dynamics within the household. It is therefore gratifying that as a major pillar in its development strategy, the Government has adopted enterprise development as a policy agenda for job creation. The creation of productive, decent and sustainable livelihoods for young people and our women has become a key objective for both the public and private sectors.
As the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender, engagement with the youth nationwide should continue to address a multiplicity of issues, from development and work programmes to motivational workshops, empowerment and employment programmes. Apart from the Fund and as a further support for programmes to assist disadvantaged groups, the Government’s partnership with the private sector, especially banks and other financial institutions to provide loans and local purchase order (LPO) funding, is a noble idea. However, the CS should stand her ground to ensure that banks adhere to the terms of youth empowerment. From the path it has taken so far, this ministry is empowering the youth to transform both themselves and the nation and in the process grow into responsible and productive citizens.
The biggest mandate for any Government is to make it possible for people to start and do business without hindrance. An enabling environment for business also addresses distributional inefficiencies brought about by market failure. The ministry’s strategies for working with the youth and transforming Kenya’s biggest demographic into a dividend, not a disaster, involves connecting youth to opportunities and entrepreneurship that also serve communities.

By youthcountyprojects

This platform seeks to fill the knowledge and awareness gap regarding youth projects being implemented in the 47 counties in Kenya.
It also highlights projects focusing on youth being implemented in 47 counties in Kenya by the national government,county governments,donor agencies,civil society organisations (CSOs),Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs),Donor Agencies,Community Based Organisations (CBOs),private sector and individuals and their impact to the communities.
The projects lie within the social pillar,economic pillar and political pillar as enshrined in Vision 2030.
Facebook Page: Youth Projects Kenya
Twitter : @YouthProjects

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