The AgriBiz programme has Thursday launched a call for applications targeting youth and women in agribusiness in Machakos, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo counties during an event hosted by Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua.
The programme will fund 2,400 women and youth-led agribusinesses over a period of five years at a cost of Ksh 5.1 billion, an additional Ksh 17.1 billion in loans will also be leveraged from local financial institutions to support the enterprises.
In the five year period, the programme is expected to have created 17,000 jobs in the agricultural sector across the country, particularly for youth and women.
The programme aims at increasing smallholder production, improve food security and boost household incomes.
Applicants from neighboring counties have been encouraged to apply for the programme.
Machakos County will accept applications from, Makeuni, Kajiado and Kitui while Kisii will accept applications from Nyamira, Kericho, Kisumu, Migori, Homabay, Bomet and Narok. Uasin Gishu will cover, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot.
Finally, Isiolo will cover Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu.
Successful applicants to the programme will benefit from training, business advisory and financing to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and encourage appropriate agribusiness practices.
The advice will be provided through business hubs set up in the counties which will offer advice to all selected agri-businesses.
Officials and residents from the four host counties who were in attendance have said that different stakeholders are ready for the call after the recently concluded sensitization fora about the AgriBiz.
The call will be targeting individuals, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in different levels of animal and crops value chains.
The event was attended by the European Union Ambassador to Kenya H.E Simon Mordue, Danida Deputy Head of Cooperation in Kenya Mr. Henrik Larsen and KCIC CEO Dr. Edward Mungai among other officials.
The EU Ambassador hailed the programme as an innovative way of supporting the value that lies in agriculture. “The overall objective of the programme is not just the growing of crops or rearing of animals, but improvement of livelihoods because AgriBiz will unlock a lot of potential in the agricultural sector that is hitherto untapped,” he said. “We therefore encourage youth and women with innovative ideas to apply and get support.
At present, the programme has admitted applicants from Kiambu, Bungoma, Meru and the surrounding counties as well as a national cohort that is being supported from the headquarter offices at Strathmore University.
“Launching the programme in these three counties is an opportunity to create livelihood for women and youth which will also support the entire family,” the Danida Head of Cooperation has said.
Adding that: “There are numerous opportunities within the AgriBiz program that if taken advantage of, will shift the economic status of these counties and their residents to an upwards trajectory.”
The four counties are endowed with abundant natural resources and diverse ecosystems which include large-scale tracts of land, good soil structures and improving infrastructure.
“There are hundreds of youth and women agripreneurs in this country who I am hoping will immensely benefit from this programme. The benefit will not be just to these people, but you will note the thousands in this region who will be reached by the ripple effect,” Dr. Alfred Mutua has said. “My administration is ready to support and ensure the achievement of the program. I am calling upon all youth and women to take advantage of this time to explore innovative ways to practice agribusiness.”
The four county governments plan to leverage on the skills of young people to make agriculture smart and profitable.
Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) CEO Dr. Edward Mungai has said that agribusiness has the potential to create sustainable jobs for youth and women in the agribusiness value chain.
“The niche in agribusiness is that it embraces the whole ecosystem and it is the foundation of all the other industries. Through this program, we are committed to assist the successful applicants commercialize and also develop their ideas into sustainable industries that will not only improve on food security, but will also provide sustainable jobs to many,” Dr. Mungai explained.
Applicants can now access the application portal via agribiz.kenyacic.org or they can drop printed and filled forms at the Business Incubation Hubs in their respective counties.
The call for applications for Machakos, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Isiolo that was opened Thursday will run until 12th March, 2021 after which successful applicants will be contacted.
Youth and women from the neighbouring counties are also eligible to apply. A similar call is expected to be opened for Kilifi County in the coming weeks.