With the government working to solve the youth unemployment in the country, the Uwezo fund has so far disbursed Shs.7.1 billion reaching 78,000 groups.
Uwezo Fund CEO Peter Lengapiani said that what they are able to fund is not commensurate to demand because the youth are taking up the funds to start businesses and they still have 20,000 groups who want to access the funding.
Speaking on Monday during the SemaNaSpox zoom discussion, Lengapiani said that they have tried to look for various partners to support in resource mobilization so that they can access the remaining youth groups.
“At the moment we have Shs.1.2 billion in our various accounts and I would like to urge our young people to access this funding,” said Lengapiani.
He explained that Uwezo Fund is a constituency-based revolving fund aimed at ensuring financial inclusivity for the Youth, Women and People living with disability in all the 290 constituencies by giving interest free loans which are paid back after a six months grace period with a 24 months repayment schedule.
“We don’t look at someone’s bank statement or assets for us to issue loans, we fund startups and the only thing we ask for is one to open a bank account and then they undergo training before the money is disbursed,” he explained.
He added that they offer marketing and linkages where they have been working with organizations like Eco Bank which has over 30 million customers across Africa and poultry farmers have been able to access cheap feeds.
“We also offer opportunities to the youth through the Public Service Internship Programme and we have been able to absorb over 700 interns who have been given opportunities to practice their skill across the 290 constituencies,” said Lengapiani.
On the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), Lengapiani said they have set aside their procurement for youth who have benefitted with over Shs.100 million in terms of business enhancement.
Government Spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said that the youth should not see the money they receive as small but rather use it to grow their businesses gradually and access more money in the future.
“If you are given a loan of Shs.2 million and you make a mistake, your mistake is worth Shs.2 million and sometimes it is very difficult to recover,” said Oguna.
ICT Authority Director of Partnerships, Innovation and Capacity Zilpher Owiti said that Ajira digital is a government initiative aimed at expanding the scope of work so that the youth who are looking for jobs can use the digital economy and acquire the available online jobs.
She highlighted that they offer training on data entry, transcriptions among other online jobs so that the youth can acquire the necessary skills to undertake the online work.
“We have partnered with various stakeholders in offering training like the universities where we have Ajira clubs, Constituency innovation hubs, county government resource centers, churches, NGO’s among others,” said Owiti.
She said that they are working with the judiciary in transcribing work making justice easy for citizens and so far over 12,000 of the provided data has been transcribed.
“In data entry at the judiciary, we have been able to employ 800 youths that have been working in the first phase in the Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi law courts. We have done 32 courts with over two million files scanned and now in the process of digitizing,” she said.
She said that over 1.2 million youths are working on Ajira digital to access work from government and private sector players through linkages from partners like Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA).
“As of last month we had trained over 180,000 youth on how to submit quality work which enables them to access more work,” she explained.
Youth Enterprise Fund credit manager Samuel Njue said that their emphasis is on financial literacy training pre and after disbursing the funds to the youth which is key in ensuring that the businesses thrive and the youth are able to repay the loans.
Njue said that they also have an objective of linking the youth with markets for their products where they have negotiated for free youth space in supermarkets and they are also working with county governments to construct market shades for the youth.
“We are also undertaking franchising which is linking the youth to similar and existing businesses where they learn better through apprenticeship,” he said.
Njue explained that in group lending they lend funds to groups of a minimum of five members who can access from Shs.100,000 up to Shs.1 million interest free while for the individual loans one can access from Shs.100,000 up to Shs.5 million with six percent interest with the loans cutting across all sectors of the economy be it agribusiness, creative-talent based, retails and wholesale sector among others.