Over 46 women, youth and persons living with disability groups in Machakos town constituency have benefited from cheques worth Sh 2.83 million courtesy of the Uwezo fund.
Speaking during the issuance ceremony, Machakos town Member of Parliament Dr Vincent Munyaka said the funds are meant to help expand and start new businesses for the beneficiaries to improve livelihoods.
Munyaka urged the young entrepreneurs to take advantage of the government funds and mentorship programmes to speed up the growth of their businesses.
“The women and youth of this country will be the cornerstone of our country’s economic development and I am inspired by the objective that the Uwezo Fund seeks to achieve,” he said.
The MP called on the residents to register more groups and ensure that they meet all the requirements needed to qualify for the next disbursement, while calling on the beneficiaries to utilize the funds well to boost their businesses and maximize profits while minimizing losses and motivate those funding them.
He urged the groups to abide by the laws and start paying back the loans as stipulated in the law adding that his office is committed to ensuring that they are empowered both socially and economically and that their living standards are improved.
“We wish that the rate of repaying the money will be high and fast so that other groups can taste the state fruits,” said Dr Munyaka, adding: “The youth and women are the ones in small and medium enterprise and they are known to be the drivers of our country’s economy. We must, therefore, empower them by all means.”
Machakos Town Constituency Uwezo Fund Chairman, Fred Lau said the beneficiaries had submitted their proposals last year and they all went through a rigorous selection process.
Mr Lau who was flanked by the Constituency Development Fund Chairman Sylvester Mumo said that his office will support persons living with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups during the registration process for their groups.
The Chair challenged his constituents to apply for and use the state funds as seed capital for their investments, further reiterating that the funds if well utilized will address the problem of joblessness in the region and in the country at large and help eradicate poverty.
“This is the only way the government will be able to empower the common mwananchi at the grassroots levels by providing them with easily accessible funding,” he said.
On his part, Machakos Town Senior Chief Joshua Kimeu pointed that it has been proven that women who organise themselves into such groups normally transform their lives.
“Women are very good at saving money and this is a chance for women to be changing the world. When they collect money, they save and loan it when there is a need thus making themselves self-reliant,” he said.
Uwezo, Youth and Women Enterprise Funds awards loans and grants to registered groups for business activities, but not to individuals.
The Fund is a flagship programme for Vision 2030 aimed at enabling women, youth and persons with disability access finances to promote businesses and enterprises at the constituency level, thereby enhancing economic growth towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty, hunger and promoting gender equality and empowering women.
The Fund was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 8 September 2013 and enacted through a Legal Notice No. 21 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2014, and published on 21 February 2014. The fund also provides mentorship opportunities to enable the beneficiaries take advantage of the 30 per cent government procurement preference through its Capacity Building Programme.
In addition, it is also aimed at generating gainful self- employment for the youth and women and to model an alternative framework in funding community driven development.
By Rachael Kilonzo