When the government introduced the Kazi Mtaani Program in July 2020, the main aim was to cushion the vulnerable youth from the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A number of youth in Busia town were recruited in the programme that lasted for around five months, earning each of them approximately Sh500 per day. While a number of the beneficiaries of the program are appealing to the government to reinstate the program, a few youth who took the programme seriously have made some milestones.
One of them Oscar Masiga who currently chairs a registered group says that the training that was being offered alongside the menial work during the programme has been a game changer to them.
Masiga chairs the Simba Youth Group, a product of sensitization given to youths who were enrolled in the Kazi Mtaani program. He says that the group comprises eight members and it was started by raising nine piglets through members’ contribution from their first earnings from Kazi Mtaani.
The official adds that group members raised more funds and purchased one and a half acres in Nangwe village Busia County, which they are utilizing in vegetable and yam growing.
“Through Kazi Mtaani training, we came to know about the existence of Uwezo Fund, tendered our application and we have received Sh100,000 from the empowerment kitty,’’ he says.
Masiga further says that the interest free loan from the Government will help his group to expand their horticultural farming at Nangwe village.
Women beneficiaries from the program have not been left behind either as evidenced by the chairperson of the Border Star youth group, Renilda Anyango. Anyango says that her group comprises 15 members who literally had no income generating activity before the government came up with the social protection initiative.
“We had no job before the Kazi Mtaani program was initiated,” she says, adding that they formed the group after being sensitized on Uwezo Fund and Youth Enterprise Funds by the directorate of youth Affairs.
The chairperson adds that the group first applied for a loan with the Youth Enterprise and Development Fund and were awarded Sh70, 000 which they used to start up a small eatery in Busia town.
Anyango further says that through the efforts and determination of members, the group expanded its clientele and today they are contracted to provide catering services at various events like baby showers and outside catering. During the 8th disbursement of Uwezo Fund, the group benefited from Sh100, 000 which it intends to expand its clientele.
Another group that benefitted from Uwezo Fund is the Widows Women Group that had applied for the third loan after repaying the previous ones as required. Uwezo Fund is not only meant for the youth but also women and special interest groups. That’s how the widows got empowerment during the 8th Uwezo Fund disbursement in Busia Sub County in early December. They received Sh300, 000.
According to Mary Auma, the group’s Secretary, the money will be invested in table banking with the remaining amount being given to individual members to invest in their own businesses under friendly repayment terms.
“Uwezo Fund has been our stronghold since we started this group and we always repay our loans in time,” she says, adding that they look forward to repaying this loan within twenty months.
She adds that the Government Empowerment funds have enabled widows to sustain their lives and educate their children.
“Members are lent up to Sh30, 000 at an interest of one percent,” she says, adding that they can also lend to outsiders but at a higher interest rate.
Auma urges the empowerment organizations to consider giving loans to individual applicants from groups that have demonstrated good repayment records so that they also have total control over their own properties and meet their personal goals.
Busia County Director of Youth Affairs Melody Nyongesa however expressed concern at low repayment rate within the Sub County.
“Since the inception of this empowerment fund in 2014, a total of 206 groups have been issued with Sh24,470,000 yet only Sh8,665 158 has been repaid,’’ she says.
Nyongesa urges the beneficiaries to use the funds for the intended purposes and ensure that they adhere to the grace period of six months before they begin repaying their loans. She hailed youth who engaged in Kazi mtaani for applying for the funds adding that the initiative will ensure that they sustain themselves.
“Youth fund has supported 10 groups from Kazi mtaani and Uwezo fund has supported two groups,” she said pointing out that Samia Sub County is leading in uptake of Uwezo funds within the County. She challenged other Sub Counties to emulate it.
She disclosed that at least 40 groups in Busia Sub County consisting of Women, Youth and Persons with disability have benefited from Uwezo fund to the tune of Sh4.9 million. Each of the groups is loaned from Sh100, 000 to 400,000.
By Salome Alwanda