The Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa (CEWA) Limited together with its partners have launched a job-creation initiative dubbed Kuza Kazi in Kwale County, where the youth are trained on entrepreneurship aimed at tackling the challenge of high unemployment.
A total of 135 beneficiaries of the Kuza Kazi initiative received a full starter kit consisting of an ice box, a sunshade, products such as soft drinks, water or juices and branding materials, as an initial investment into their businesses.
“All these beneficiaries will operate under our direct supervision and thereafter will be integrated into the Coca-Cola retail network and we will fulfil our vendors’ product orders, offer training and sales support,” said Emily Waita, Director Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, Coca-Cola, East and Central Africa Franchise.
According to a World Bank report, nearly four in every 10 able Kenyans of working age have no jobs compared to the global average of six people in every 100.
The Kuza Kazi initiative therefore offers a direct solution to unemployment by economically empowering the youth through Coca-Cola system vast network of bottlers and distributors.
“As the Coca-Cola system, we are excited for Kuza Kazi launch in Kwale County. This project is important for our economy, both at county level and nationally, because it ensures that those who are unemployed can earn a decent living,” said Waita.
The initiative goes hand-in-hand with Vision 2030 as well as the governments “Big Four” agenda which concentrates on food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for everyone.
Kwale has a labour force of about 352,350 with wage employment still very low within the county, contributing to just 8.6 percent of the average household income.
According economic survey 2019 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics the contribution of self-employment to household income is at 1.9 percent and 6.2 percent for rural and urban areas respectively.
A big number of this group is engaged in the Jua kali sector and other Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
The agriculture sector, mainly subsistence farming contributes 80.6 percent to the household income employing about 62,681 people in the County.
Around 30 percent of the total labour force aged between 15 years and 64 years is either unemployed or underemployed. This constitutes 105,774 people with the youth being the most adversely affected.
The overall poverty headcount rate for individuals in the County stands at 47.4 percent compared 36.1 percent at the national level implying that almost half the population live in overall poverty.
Joyce Wafula Ogesi, the Chief of Party, USAID and Kenya Youth Employment and Skills Progarmme (KYES) said that USAID/KYES focuses on the responsibility to lay a foundation for long-term economic growth through trade, agriculture, and infrastructure programmes.
“We always enter into partnership with local organizations to support community-led, owned and managed development. Our approach focuses to empower communities to improve the lives of vulnerable populations,” she said.
“USAID will continue to support economic projects and growth by encouraging trade as well as supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to improve entrepreneurial skills,” she added.
The Coca-Cola system has been involved in the “5by20” global initiative focusing on empowering women and youth.
In Kenya, more than 350,000 women and youth have benefitted from this initiative since 2011.
The Kuza Kazi initiative therefore responds to the critical need to provide an avenue for the youth and women in Kenya to be economically empowered for themselves and to deliver on the country’s strategy.
Ramadhan Bungale, the Kwale County Executive Committee (CEC) for Social Services has welcomed the initiative, saying it will help majority of the youth trapped in poverty.
“This empowerment initiative will in the long run entrench entrepreneurial culture and offer young people a ladder out of poverty,” he said.
By Hussein Abdullahi