Barclays has donated Sh7 million towards the initiative dubbed “Barclays Smart Champs”, and the money will be used to train and educate Barclays Smart Champs youth groups on financial literacy skills, enterprise skills, and life skills, while at the same time sensitising the youth to embrace environmental management practices for sustainable development.
While speaking at the launch event, Barclays non -executive director John Waweru said, “At Barclays, we strive to empower the youth in every aspect. Seventy five percent of our country’s population represents the youth and it is critical for us to come up with programs that will empower them economically and at the same time promote sustainable development.”
“Barclays Kenya has been at the forefront of supporting youth initiatives through entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy. Sustainable development cannot be adequately addressed without including one very important stakeholder – the young people,” he explained.
He added that the Smart Champs initiative is designed to sensitise the youth on environmental management practices that they can use to empower themselves economically.
To achieve the objective, Barclays will implement the project through the Center for Environmental Action, which is a resource point focusing on environmental conservation, community empowerment and capacity building.
The Center for Environmental Action chairman Njoroge Karanja said, “Our vision is to create a society of people who consciously work for environmental protection and conservation while transforming livelihoods.”
“Through the Barclays intervention, we will be able to make significant progress in creating critical linkages between the environment, governance, natural resources, social values and the quality of life the youth led,” he added.
Environmental degradation is rising at an unprecedented rate and Kenya is witnessing the loss of the very resources on which livelihood systems depend.
“Our communities are being affected by erratic weather patterns causing displacement and scramble for natural resources; clean water, air, and food,” he noted.
“It is therefore important for all stakeholders to integrate economic activities with sustainable environmental practices while involving the youth for long term impact,” he emphasised.
Waweru pointed out that it is responsibility of all stakeholders more importantly the private sector and the government to empower the youth by creating platforms that support them economically whereas at the same time ensure that they adhere to protection of the environment.
“We have a very vibrant employee volunteering scheme through which colleagues will take time to mentor the Barclays Smart Champs youth groups to ensure that they impart skills that will help them grow economically and become independent,” he said.
“Needless to say, natural capital drives our economy and as such we need to support our youth to embrace sustainable utilization to secure benefits for all generations to come,” he added.