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Agribiz Innovation Programme empowers youth,women

Youth and women in Kisumu and the neighbouring counties have been urged to engage in agribusiness to benefit from financial and technical support from the AgriBiz programme funded by the European Union (EU) and Danida.

The EU Ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger, made the call during the celebrations of the United Nations World Tourism Day in Kisumu County on Wednesday.

Through the programme, she said, the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) was set up in Kisii County to provide technical expertise and mentorship to youth and women-led agribusinesses to scale up their ideas into viable businesses.

“We have committed to supporting innovative Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to contribute to employment creation and facilitate investment in green and climate-related enterprises,” Geiger assured.

She called on young people and women to grab the opportunity, as the initiative is set to invite new applicants for the fourth annual contest dubbed the ‘Vijana na Agribiz Competition’.

“We will be launching a call in October for new businesses to incubate at the KCIC.

Beneficiaries will enjoy a protective environment to nurture their inventions and establish their start-ups,” Geiger remarked.

Since its inception in 2020, Agribiz has supported over 1,000 small businesses by providing them with seed capital, grants, loans, and support services to make them ready for investment.

The KCIC incubation centre located in Kisii currently serves 7 counties within the region, including Kisumu, Nyamira, Bomet, Narok, Homa Bay, Migori, and Kericho.

In addition, the ambassador acknowledged Africa’s incredible potential in the tourism sector and her young population, which is pivotal in driving innovation and creativity.

She stressed that there was a need for deeper collaborations to speed up the job creation rate by establishing new forms of employment to help absorb the increasing population.

“The job creation rate by far outstrips population growth, and we have to make deliberate efforts to create new forms of employment that can absorb these people,” Geiger explained.

At the same time, she appealed to stakeholders to learn and adjust to the needs and desires of future tourists to enhance sustainable tourism in the region.

The ambassador terms sustainable tourism and the agribusiness value chain as the next frontier for job creation for thousands of youths.

While speaking at the same event, Kisumu Governor, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, emphasised that his administration is committed to protecting and preserving the natural resources to reap the benefits of tourism.

“We understand that responsible tourism can drive economic growth, create jobs, and enhance the quality of life for our residents,” Nyong’o said.

Consequently, he pointed out that his government is committed to taking up its responsibility to safeguard the environment.

“We are investing in eco-friendly infrastructure, promoting renewable energy sources, and encouraging sustainable agriculture and fisheries,” Prof. Nyong’o stated.

He noted that the UN World Tourism Day celebrations theme ‘Tourism and Green Investments” resonates with the visions of Lakeside County, especially on building resilient neighbourhoods.

Further, the county boss pledged to form formidable partnerships with various stakeholders to foster sustainable and green investment in tourism in the region.

By Robert Ojwang’

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