Over Sh. 610.6 million has been disbursed as soft loans in Uasin Gishu County as part of the national government’s initiative to mobilize resources to empower women, youth and persons living with a disability.
The funds disbursed through Uwezo Fund, Women Enterprise Fund (WEF), and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) have benefited more than 64,000 beneficiaries either in organized groups or individuals.
The initiative by the national government was meant to mobilize resources for sustainable access to affordable financial and business support services to empower Kenyan women, youth, and persons living with disability.
Under YEDF that commenced 15 years ago, loans worth more than Sh479 million have been issued to 19,631 beneficiaries with Sh. 82.6 million being disbursed directly to the beneficiaries and Sh. 397.3 million through financial intermediaries.
The YEDF loan products include the Constituency youth enterprise scheme (C-YES), which is disbursed to organized youth groups for business start-ups, The easy Youth enterprise scheme (E-YES), which also targets youth groups, and also individuals. The beneficiaries graduate after accessing the C-YES loans for individual business start-ups or expansion.
The other products include Vuka loan, Agri Biz loan, Talanta loan, and LPO and bid Bonds loan. The Vuka loan targets individuals already in business and require capital injection, while the Agri Biz loan targets youth interested in agriculture as a group or individually.
Talanta loans target in the creative industry while the LPO and Bid bonds loan target to facilitate youths who have won tenders either in the national government or county government, under the 30% Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), the youth can access a loan of up to Sh. 5million.
During the 2021/2022 financial year loans amounting to Sh. 17, 345,000 was disbursed to 1,131 beneficiaries in organized groups or individually.
A report prepared by the county Credit Officer, Mildred Wakapisi lists high unemployment rates that currently stand at 15% as well as negative attitudes toward loan uptake as some of the factors preventing the youth from applying for the loans in Uasin Gishu County.
Most youth, she notes had opted for quick mobile phone loans that easily put them into default records.
Alcohol and drug abuse, lack of entrepreneurial spirit, and lack of collateral to secure loans were also identified as other challenges facing the youth in the region.
The average repayment rate for the disbursed loans stands at 76% so far.
Under the women enterprise fund, (WEF) more than Sh. 377.9million has been disbursed to 2,481 organized groups with 26,919 members.
The highest number of groups that have applied and benefited from the WEF loans are from Kapseret constituency, where 453 groups with 4,946 members have received a total of Sh. 76.9 million. Soy constituency with 347 groups received the least amount of the loan Sh. 42.5million.
Since its inception in 2013, Uwezo Fund has disbursed more than Sh. 134.99million directly supporting 23,586 beneficiaries in Uasin Gishu County.
69% of the beneficiaries according to a report by the county youth development officer Gladys Tuitoek, were females and 31 % males.
The beneficiaries profited through the provision of affordable and accessible credit, capacity building on entrepreneurial skills, basic bookkeeping, market linkages, and networking.
Out of the 1815 groups that have benefited from the fund, 504 were youth groups, 1059 women groups and 39 PLWD’s groups.
The fund is one of the government’s flagship programmes for vision 2030 aimed at enabling women, youth, and persons living with disabilities to access finance to promote business and enterprise at the county level.
Out of the disbursed amount, Sh. 75.7 million has so far been repaid.
In his recent visit to Uasin Gishu County, Government Spokesman Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna asked women, youth, and PLWD’s to take advantage of the funds, especially under the AGPO so as to improve their economic standards.
YEDF established by the government as a strategy for addressing youth unemployment and through the fund the youth can be gainfully engaged to embrace entrepreneurship as a way for job creation.
“It’s up to the youths to make use of the funds to economically empower themselves, said Oguna at the time.
By Kiptanui Cherono