The department of Youth Affairs has so far disbursed Sh11, 269, 000 million to 97 groups in the six constituencies of Narok County this financial year.
Speaking to KNA, Narok County Youth Director Joash Ratemo who is also the coordinator of the fund in the county said most of these funds were disbursed in the first half of the financial year adding they have not been able to disburse any funds to the groups since January this year.
He noted groups have been having challenges servicing their loans due to the Covid- 19 pandemic which has affected many businesses and this could be why they were not coming for more.
“This is supposed to be a revolving fund and when the groups are not servicing their loans, there will be no money to give to other groups, Mr Ratemo said adding that some of the groups had applied for a restructuring of loan repayment, some for a period of even up to one year.
During the period, Narok North constituency received the highest disbursement of Sh. 3million which went to 24 groups while Emurua Dikirr received the lowest amount of Sh 500, 000 which went to five groups.
The fund was initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013 with a Sh. 6 Billion kitty which came from the money that had been set aside for a presidential election re-run which did not happen after the president won in the first round.
It’s lent to women groups, youth and groups consisting of People Living with Disabilities (PLWD). The youth groups must have 70 per cent of the members being between 18 and 35 years to qualify and be fully led by youths, while women groups must have 70 per cent membership being women and be fully women-led. PLWDs on their part must have 70 per cent of members being PLWDs and be fully 100 per cent led by PLWDs in order to qualify for this loan.
The Uwezo Fund loan also known as Wezesha loan is a constituency-based loan intended to finance first time borrowers’ projects and enterprises. The benefiting group must be registered under the Department of Social Services, Cooperatives or the Registrar of Societies.
The Youth director said the groups that benefit get a grace period of six months before commencement of repayment of the loan but all loans shall be payable within two years. “A Monitoring Committee is in place to ensure that the beneficiaries are utilizing the money as agreed in the proposal,” he said.
The beneficiaries are taken through a finance management seminar before receiving the money.
The amount given to each group depends on the length of time the group has been in existence, the total amount contributed by the group, the status of contribution and proposed business plan for the loan applied.
Ratemo said the objective of the fund is to expand access to financing in promotion of youth, PLWDs and women businesses and enterprises at the constituency level for economic gain. The fund is also aimed to generate gainful self- employment for the youth and women who are the beneficiaries.
The programme in the county was however facing challenges such as poor performance due to high illiteracy rates, inaccessibility of some areas due to poor infrastructure and inadequate resources and staff to follow up and mobilize the groups.
By Mabel Keya-Shikuku