Youth and Enterprise Development Fund has raised the standards of living for majority of youth in Kericho County since its inception in 2006 with over 40 Youth groups benefiting from the funds in the last one year.
According to the Kericho County Credit Officer, Victor Langat, Sh.9 million have been disbursed to the youth groups and individuals in businesses within the County.
Mr. Langat was optimistic that a targeted Sh.15 million will be disbursed to groups and individual businesses before the end of the 2020-2021 financial year.
Speaking to Kenya News Agency, Mr. Langat shared a number of success stories of youth groups under the age of 35 who have invested through the fund including Masarian Youth Empowerment Group at Cherote village in Ainamoi Sub-County in Kericho.
Mr. Gilbert Rotich, the Secretary of Masarian Youth Empowerment group said that the group started as a table banking venture in the year 2015 with a membership of ten individuals aged between 26 and 37 consisting of six (6) men and four (4) women.
According to Mr. Rotich, Masarian, the Group transitioned from table banking into a project that offers motorbikes on loan to young people within Cherote village.
This project required them to have a hefty starting capital and that is when they applied for the Youth and Enterprise Fund.
“We organized ourselves by getting all the documentation right and finally presented it to the Youth Fund office and we managed to receive Sh200, 000 as our starting capital.” said Mr. Rotich.
The Group managed to repay the first loan and after sometime they managed to secure a larger loan of Sh. 400, 000 from Youth and Enterprise Fund, which Mr. Rotich said boosted their motorbike business.
“We invite the young people who would want to own a motorbike to our meetings, we enlighten them on how they can start saving with us and after they reach an agreed amount, we procure a motorbike for them on loan, which they eventually pay in installments for a period of one year,” Rotich said.
Masarian Group has so far managed to give out 90 motorbikes on loan which Mr. Rotich reveals have all been successfully repaid.
Josphat Omondi, is one among many beneficiaries of Masarian group, including bodaboda riders who were once employed as riders but managed to save with Masarian group and acquired their own motorcycles from the loan and were able to pay within a twelve month installment program.
“I now have two motorbikes and I also own a Motorbike spares shop. My monthly income has increased and I am now able to fend for my family and invest more just because of the Masarian group,” said Josphat Omondi.
Through this project, Rotich reveals that Masarian Group has been able to invest in two quarter acre land and venture in agro-forestry which he says has boosted the group’s income and now they plan to build rental houses on the two pieces of land.
“We hope to secure a bigger loan this time round from Youth Fund to enable us build rental houses and shops on our two pieces of land and because we have been faithful in repaying our previous loans, I am optimistic we will qualify for Sh 2 milion this time round,” said Rotich.
According to the Kericho County Credit Officer Mr. Victor Langat, the greatest challenge the Youth Fund office has been grappling with is defaulters of loans adding that it reduces credit worthiness of the group or an individual insisting that it is important to repay loans on time.
“Before we give out the loans, we usually visit projects undertaken by youth groups to ensure they are viable and I can assure you a majority of the projects within Kericho County are good and viable,” said Mr. Langat
Apart from the Masarian group, Mr. Langat revealed that other projects undertaken by the youth in Kericho County include horticulture projects and poultry projects which he indicated have been successful and most of the beneficiaries can now qualify for bigger loans.
“Depending on the size of the project, we make application of Sh 50,000 to Sh 2 million shillings,” said Mr. Langat
He revealed that his office occasionally conducts empowerment sessions at the villages around the County to enlighten the youth on opportunities the fund can open up for them to transform their lives positively.
Lang’at explained that for a group of youth to qualify for the funds, the group must possess a valid registration certificate from a relevant government body and that the group must have members that exceed five people.
He at the same time, pointed out that a group should have at least 70 percent of its members within the youth bracket 18 to 34 and 100 per cent of the leaders should be youth. For a group to meet all the qualifications, it must also have a joint bank account with at least three signatories.
Lang’at further explained that Youth Enterprise and Development Fund offers other products that include Rausha loans which is for startups for businesses or income generating activities. Then there is Inua Loans meant for already existing businesses owned by youth.
Other categories of loans he said include, Special Loans, Smart Loans, Swift loans, and Vuka loans.
As a parting shot, Mr. Rotich said Youth Fund has transformed the lives of many youth in Kericho County and will continue to uplift livelihoods and success stories will continue coming forth every year.
Youth enterprise Development Fund is a state corporation under the Ministry of Public Service and one of the vision 2030s flagship projects under the social pillar established in 2007 mainly to address challenges faced by youth unemployment with an aim of turning the youth into job creators.
By Kibe Mburu