According to a survey released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in 2017, seven million Kenyans are jobless. Of these, 1.4 million have been actively looking for work. Some have have given up looking for jobs after unsuccessful attempts while others have opted to further their studies.
The situation with youth unemployment in Kenya paints a depressing picture of the country’s employment levels. The condition is unfortunate because a significant number of the youth are educated and have the required academic papers. Most of them have borrowed loans and finances to afford education, yet they still cannot find decent jobs. Eventually, they are forced to gamble to meet their daily basic needs.
For a long time, young people have been expected to engineer their way out of poverty with no support. But there seems to be hope finally as the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, with support from the World Bank Group have launched a USD 50 Mn project to support youth entrepreneurship in Kenya.
The project dubbed ‘Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project’ (KIEP) aims to increase innovation and productivity in select private sector firms. Under the project, local startups, Small Micro enterprises (SMEs), Corporate and student beneficiaries will access up to a maximum of USD 50K.
World Bank Country Director, Felipe Jaramillo said that the project will be executed through incubation hubs, accelerators and boot camps over a six-year period to establish strong linkages between startups and local and international industries.
In his remarks, the World Bank Country Director, insisted that development was crucial in growing the economy and job creation noting that KIEP would be making its mark in the digital ecosystem while addressing broader technological challenges in Kenya.
Jaramillo further expressed delight on the fact that the project would be offering support to women entrepreneurs and women run SMEs.
“With the proper application of innovation, productivity, and digital solutions, Kenya can be the leader in Africa in trade-related matters,” he said.
Betty Maina, Principal Secretary of Industrialization, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives spoke during the launch and she stated that the project is focused on supporting SMEs, and its strategy is meant to drive more innovation in the startup ecosystem.
She emphasized on the need for more innovation in the industrial space to boost productivity “Our Country can grow leaps and bounds by commercializing these innovations,” she said.
The project is in line with the Kenya’s Vision 2030 to transform Kenya into an industrialized and high middle-income county. “The project marks an important milestone towards the ongoing digitizing and transformation initiatives for Kenya’s global competitiveness that is expected to create additional jobs for the youths,” said Maina.
In additions to funding youth startups, the project will also fund SMEs to improve their abilities so that they can be better placed to compete in the global and regional markets.
Featured Image Courtesy: Quartz
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