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Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) is an ongoing World Bank funded project whose implementation started in the 2016/2017 financial year. The project objective is to increase employment and earnings opportunities for targeted youths. The project has 4 components that are being implemented by different Government Agencies as follows:

  • Component 1: Improving youth employability, implemented by MIIYA and the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA)
  • Component 2: Support for job Creation, implemented by MIIYA and the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA)
  • Component 3: Improving Labour Market Information, implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection
  • Component 4: Strengthening Youth Policy Development and project management, implemented by the State Department for Youth, in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs (MIIYA).

Micro and Small Enterprises Authority has been implementing component 2 of the project: Support for job creation, which addresses the following specific constraints: lack of start-up financing for young entrepreneurs; lack of managerial and entrepreneurial skills among youth;  and lack of relevant exposure and networks for starting and growing a business among youth.

The Authority held a three day workshop to review the performance of the three subcomponents, and the lessons learnt during implementation that will be incorporated as the project scales up.

The workshop was opened by Registrar of MSEs, Ms. Catherine Mungania who was representing the CEO Mr. Henry Rithaa.  Also present was the KYEOP National Project Coordinator, Mr. Augustine Mayabi, MSEA Project Cordinator, Ms. Caroline Kioko, the Project Implementing Unit (PIU) and regional representatives from all the project implementing counties.

Registrar of MSEs, Ms. Catherine Mungania officially opening the workshop.
NPC Mr. Augustine Mayabi making a presentation

To harness the potential of these young people, the project embarked on bold reforms in employment through provision of business development services training, provision of start-up grants and the MbeleNaBiz business plan competition.

The Business Development Services training (BDS) sub-component 2.2 is meant to help Kenyan youth in acquiring entrepreneurship and managerial skills to help them grow their business. BDS entailed classroom training – a four day face-to-face training on business skills, Business Coaching/Counselling – Short term face-to-face proactive business counselling in the youth’s business premises (field visits) which were later phased out by Digital BDS training in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The business lessons are now delivered through digital platforms. To date, a total of 9,384 youths have received classroom training and coaching.

The initial target for business start-up grants was 30,000 youth. However with the tremendous performance realized under this sub-component, the savings from other interventions across the agencies were incorporated to enhance the target to 78,000 youth across the 17 implementing counties. To date, a total of Ksh 2,104,560,000 (business start-up grants) has been disbursed to 68,760 youths. This has led to drastic improvement on income levels as recorded during monitoring and evaluation of the beneficiaries. Employment tracking shows 88% of youth who received the grant have started or expanded their business.

The MbeleNaBiz Business Plan Competition aimed to expand new and existing youth-led enterprises by providing them with grant funding of either Ksh. 900,000 or Ksh. 3,600,000 and business plan training. By investing in young entrepreneurs whose ventures will generate employment opportunities and earnings for unemployed youth, the Competition has contributed to the development of an inclusive economy that provides opportunities for as many Kenyans as possible. A total of 741 beneficiaries have received tranche one and are on track to receive their second and third tranches. The innovations by these youth and employment created can be replicated in future interventions.

Some future recommendations that came up through the workshop include; retaining randomization process used at intake level to ensure fair selection of beneficiaries, Business Development Services training to be made compulsory to all grant beneficiaries, this will equip them with business management skills and scaling the project to all counties.

Ms. Caroline Kioko, MSEA project coordinator making her remarks.

Guided discussion forums during the workshop.

Stakeholders at both county level as well as youth beneficiaries would like to see a continuation and expansion of KYEOP investments. KYEOP has greatly impacted they lives of youth in rural counties. Both beneficiaries and the authorities at county level laud the initiative and the impact it has had on youth employment. They have high expectations for the project continuing for a longer time, enabling it to cover a larger percentage of youths in these counties.