The Youth Enterprise Development Fund was established in year 2006 with the sole purpose of reducing unemployment among the youth who account for over 61% of the unemployed in the country. The target of the fund is young people within the age bracket of 18 to 35 years who number 13 million. The Fund was gazetted on 8th December 2006 and then transformed into a State Corporation on 11th May 2007.
The Fund’s strategic focus is on enterprise development as a key strategy that will increase economic opportunities for, and participation by Kenyan youth in nation building. The government has so far released Ksh. 3.8 billion to the Fund.
In 2008 the Fund developed a 3 year strategic plan to address varied needs and aspirations of the youth, and to address the challenges it has faced in the past. The Fund is currently working on a 5 year strategic plan in line with the Medium Term Plan (MTP) of the Vision 2030. It is the Fund’s intention to evolve and be able to meet the dynamic needs of the youth, who are its raison d’être. The fund is constantly reviewing its operational mechanisms from time to time in order to make it responsive to needs and expectations of the target clients.
Unemployment is one of the most daunting economic challenges facing Kenya. The government has consequently placed job creation at the top of its policy agenda. The Youth account for 61% of the unemployed. Many of the unemployed Youth have no job training other than formal schooling. Hence, unemployment is not just a lack of jobs, but also a lack of job skills due to inadequacy of the training infrastructure as well as the means to acquire skills, due to poverty.
It is in recognition of the above facts that the government conceived the idea of institutional financing as a way of addressing unemployment which essentially is a youth problem. The concept is based on the premise that micro, small, and medium enterprise development initiatives are likely to have the biggest impact on job creation. Young people who constitute the largest segment of our society, is the future of any economy and a key driver of employment growth and economic activities.
Youth Enterprise Development Fund was established in December 2006 by the government as an initiative that is hoped to address the unemployment rate among the youth. The twin strategic pillars of this initiative are enterprise development and externally focused employment creation through Youth Employment Scheme Abroad (YESA).
The government’s resolve in ensuring sustainability and professional management was evident on 11th May 2007 when the Fund was transformed into a State Corporation so as to respond to the changing needs of the youth.
The Fund was established in order to:
- Provide loans for on-lending to youth enterprises
- Attract and facilitate investment in micro, small and medium enterprises oriented commercial infrastructure that will be beneficial to youth enterprises
- Support youth oriented micro, small and medium enterprises to develop linkages with large enterprises
- Facilitate marketing of products and services of youth enterprises both in the domestic and the international markets
- Provide business development services to youth enterprises
- Facilitate employment of youth in the international labour market
A sustainable and growing fund, economically empowering Kenyan Youth
To increase economic opportunities for, and participation by Kenyan youth in nation building through enterprise development and strategic partnerships
Integrity: uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles.
- Professionalism: working with prescribed ethical principles and moral standards
- Creativity and innovativeness: to be open and pro-active in providing quality services to clients.
- Equity and fairness: providing services to clients fairly without favouritism
- Responsiveness: performing duties devotedly and dealing with customers without unnecessary delays
- Accountability and transparency: performing duties justly and with openness.
To date the Fund has:
- Financed over 157,000 youth enterprises to the tune of Kshs. 5.9 billion. Many of the youth the Fund supported at inception are today big employers.
- Helped thousands of youth build their enterprises through market support and entrepreneurship training. The Fund has trained over 200,000 young entrepreneurs.
- Supported thousands of youth to take up jobs overseas through the Youth Employment Scheme Abroad (YESA) programme.
The Fund has helped create over 300,000 jobs in the five years.
The Fund has continued to diversify its product base by focusing on interventions that are more responsive to the needs of the youth and are geared towards addressing specific challenges facing young entrepreneurs. The Fund is indeed working on a new strategic plan to guide these interventions. Some of the interventions include;
i) Sector Specific Financing
This will focus on funding youth interested in doing business in specific sectors of the economy. The Fund will partner with experienced players in such fields whereby the Fund will provide the financial support and the identified players will provide needed technical support to the youth. Some of the sectors identified include dairy, agriculture, livestock, green energy, and film and music industry.
- The Fund entered into a partnership with Ramat, a livestock marketing firm. The Fund provides credit to youth who buy livestock, fatten and sell to Ramat
- The Fund has established a loan product to enable youth acquire greenhouses. To begin with the Fund will finance two youth groups per constituency to acquire two greenhouse kits each. The greenhouse kits, complete with inputs, will be provided by Amiran Kenya which will also train the youth on modern agricultural practices. This product is expected to create over 5,000 jobs instantly as well as improve food security considerably.
- The Fund, in partnership with the Kenya Film Commission and the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, will soon be launching a product for young film makers, complete with an incubation facility.
ii) Direct funding
- The Fund has established a component that will enable it advance big loans directly to youth whose enterprises demonstrate capacity to create many jobs for young people.
iii) Franchise financing
The Fund intends to partner with business owners who would like to franchise their brands. This move affords the youth with business opportunities already tried and tested and known in the market. The Fund will finance interested franchisees to start and run such businesses with the technical support of the franchisor.
iv) Credit Guarantee Scheme
In an effort to increase access to credit, The Fund wishes to set up a Credit Guarantee Scheme for young entrepreneurs by providing guarantees to financial institutions to facilitate easy access to credit under a risk sharing arrangement. This initiative is geared towards unlocking capital in the private sector. The Fund therefore wishes to enter into partnership with financial institutions willing to provide financial services to the youth under a guarantee scheme from the Fund with a risk sharing framework. The scheme shall provide guarantees against default to financial institutions for loans advanced to youth entrepreneurs that would not ordinarily have been funded. The scheme is intended to support youth enterprises with particular focus on;
- Youth entrepreneurs with good start up business ideas but are unable to access financial support due to lack of adequate collateral
- Trade Finance products i.e. LPO/LSO Financing, Bid and Performance bonds, Invoice Discounting and letters of credit. This will enable the youth take advantage of the government affirmative action on 10% procurement from the youth that they are currently unable to due to lack of credible credit history with financial intermediaries.
- Capital intensive youth enterprises
- Asset financing especially of equipment that support growth of youth enterprises
v) Accessing Markets
- The Fund is in the process of developing a Youth Enterprise Directory to be distributed to all public and private entities in the country. This will enable the Fund to lobby for affirmative buying from the enterprises.
- In its endeavor to be in tune with the needs of the youth, the fund is researching on market access inhibiting factors and opportunities available for the youths.
vi) Partnership with communities
- In order to enhance penetration of information at the grassroots, and to ensure that the Fund’s services remain relevant to our clients the fund has started a grassroots stakeholder programme known as Mashinani. In this programme youth, leaders and other stakeholders from a particular county are gathered together where they discuss their opportunities and challenges with the fund, and also give their recommendations on their unique needs. We have so far covered eleven counties and hope to cover more by the end of 2012.
vii) Opening of regional offices
- In order to take services closer to its clientele in accordance with the new constitution, the Fund has opened ten regional offices across the country. These offices will serve as a transition to county offices which are expected to be operational as soon as the requisite funds are available. This strategy is expected to increase the staff size significantly.
- To enhance service delivery to youth at the grassroots, the Fund has employed two officers in every constituency. These constituency officers will help the youth form groups, fill in application forms and provide them with business counseling. The officers have been provided with motorbikes to enable them reach all parts of their respective constituencies.