Kenya Central Bank (KCB) has partnered with the Tharaka Nithi County Government to offer youths startup capital for their businesses in order to expand the informal sector.
Through KCB Foundation, the bank was able to start a program dubbed, 2jiajiri initiative in 2016 that enables youths to create employment in the informal sector through skills they acquire in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions.
Speaking during a press briefing outside his office, area Governor Muthomi Njuki, said that the county government through the department of gender, youths, sports and culture has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with KCB Foundation to help create more job opportunities for unemployed youths.
The bank will give out credit loans to youths to enable them fund their businesses, noted the governor, adding that most of them have work equipment but lack funds to start their businesses.
“We started a youth empowerment program, where we gave a number of them equipment to start businesses, this MoU will enable them get the startup capital from KCB to fund those businesses,” he said.
Njuki disclosed that they will pay back the interest acquired from the loans to ease the burden of high interest rates that the youths pay after borrowing bank loans.
“Many youths complain of high interest rates and because of that we shall help them in paying back the interest so they can have more money, for instance we can give a group of youth Sh100, 000 to pay off a Sh1 million loan from KCB,” he said.
The governor further revealed that together with the foundation, they will pay school fees for youths who join TVET institutions to enable them complete their studies and acquire technical skills.
“If we identify 200 students, KCB will sponsor them so that we have an open cheque to decide the number of those joining the TVETs on scholarship,” he said.
The governor encouraged more youths to join TVET institutions to sharpen their skills and abilities.
He added that KCB will also have mentorship programs on how to run and manage businesses as well as training on bookkeeping to avoid business losses.
On her part, Head KCB foundation Ms Caroline Wanjeri Kihara, acknowledged that they have signed an MoU with Tharaka Nithi County Government to help them give technical skills to youths through TVET institutions.
She said that they will take the youths through three to six month courses to acquire technical skills after which they will take another 12 to 18 months courses to acquire business development skills.
Ms Kihara noted that they realized many youths have the potential, but lack opportunities, hence the creation of the 2jiajiri initiative program to create more jobs.
“We realized many youths don’t have jobs and not all can go to university, but many have the potential if given the right technical skills and supported in the right way including access to credit,” she said.
The bank official explained that their intention is to ensure once one youth acquires a critical skill, then they can employ two or more others to work for them.
“Not everyone can-do white-collar jobs, but you can contribute to the economy by offering critical services like catering where you don’t need an office, but you can employ others to help you do the job,” she said.
Ms Kihara revealed that they will work with the micro credit department to give youths skills and funds to enable them to put the equipment given by the county government into use.
She appreciated the county government for agreeing to pay interest and act as grantors for the youths.
By Sharon Gitau and Danson Karanja