Youth and women fund ready for launch

The Ksh. 6 Billion Fund to support youth and women enterprises will soon be operational after the Ministry of Devolution and Planning paved way for its launch by establishing of a framework for the effective disbursement of the Fund, dubbed the UWEZO Fund.

Following H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge that the Ksh. 6 Billion originally set aside by the government for use in the event of an election run-off would be rechanneled to support youth and women enterprises, the Ministry, which is incharge of Youth affairs, initiated preparations for launching the Fund and established in collaboration with other ministries and state agencies, a framework for disbursement of the resources.

Devolution and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ms. Anne Waiguru notes that through the Fund, eligible youth and women across the country will gain access to interest-free loans as start up capital for small and micro business of varying amounts not exceeding Ksh. 500,000. Only a 3% one-off administration fee will be payable for each loan.

Speaking on a national radio breakfast show Monday, Ms. Waiguru explained that the UWEZO Fund additionally aims at supporting youth and women to leverage on the 30% government procurement preference for youth, women and Persons with Disabilities.

The resources under the UWEZO Fund will be disbursed directly to beneficiaries through the Constituency Development Fund framework, under the administration of committees that have been established at each constituency, she said.

Besides the relevant Member of Parliament, the committee will comprise one youth and women representative each. In addition to assessing applicants’ business plans and granting loan approvals, the committee’s role will include monitoring use of the disbursed resources to ensure accountability.

The Cabinet Secretary hailed the new Fund as revolutionary, noting that by adopting the table banking model, the government has ensured sustainability of the Fund to benefit many more Kenyan Youth and Women in future on a revolving basis.

She advised youth to develop sound Business Plans to enable them access the Fund and urged them to strive for social accountability when granted the loans.

The Ministry and the relevant government institutions will be spearheading capacity building efforts for prospective beneficiaries of the Fund once it is launched.