Women and youth groups operating in the agribusiness sector in Taita Taveta County are looking to a brighter future following the unveiling of a Sh5.1 billion capital fund.
Asha Mmbali, a field coordinator from Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) urged the county administration to popularize the agribusiness kitty to residents to spur development and build resilient communities in the face of shifting economic tides.
“I urge not only the departments of agriculture and commerce but also the entire county administration to take up the baton of informing the targeted groups and individuals to take advantage of this fund and build a strong economic base from the ground up,” said Mmbali.
She emphasized that KCIC is giving equal opportunities to every group with a focus on addressing the major challenges that come in the way of women and youth in harnessing the immense potential in the agriculture sector at the grassroots.
“Access to the fund is not biased as our focus remains set on defeating the challenges that women and the youth face in exploiting the massive potential of the agricultural sector at the grassroots,” said Mmbali.
The fund being implemented by KCIC was launched in early March 2020 under the banner of the AgriBiz Programme but went into a lull soon after due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. It is now available for a mass takeoff and Taita Taveta is now better placed to reap the benefits.
Countrywide, the AgriBiz Programme targets 2,400 women and youth-led micro and small enterprises in niche agricultural enterprises and potentially creates jobs across the country, especially in the far-flung, poverty-stricken, and marginalized counties.
According to Swalehe Hamisi, the business analyst Kilifi Business Incubation Hub, the programme is implemented through several financial products viz loans, and grants, as well as technical support through training, brand development, proper business registration, and frequent assessment to identify challenges and remedies for beneficiaries.
“The programme is multi-pronged and on top of loans and grants, we also give technical support to beneficiaries in form training, brand development, proper business registration, as well as identifying challenges and coming up with solutions,” said Swalehe.
In Taita Taveta, a total of 20 youth-led groups have registered and applied for the fund and so far four groups have accessed Sh4 M invested in a range of agricultural value addition activities and creating employment opportunities for the individual members.
The acting County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Grantone Mwandawiro, while appreciating the availability of the funds to women and youths in the county also acknowledged the small fraction of beneficiaries and promised to be an ambassador of spreading the information about the fund to every corner of the county.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity this programme gives our women and youth. However, I’m far from impressed by the number of applicants and beneficiaries. I’ll take up the role of spreading the information about the fund to every corner of the country, “said Mwandawiro.
By Arnold Linga Masila