NAIROBI, October 8 – The Youth Enterprise Development Fund is in the final stages of signing partnerships with four financial institutions to increase the kitty with up to Sh2.7 billion.,
The fund’s Chief Executive Officer Umuro Wario told Capital News that he expects to finalise the deal in a month’s time.
“We have finalised an agreement with Family Bank and some Sh700 million will be available, we have also signed with Kenya Commercial Bank bringing around Sh1 billion through that. We are just concluding one with Equity Bank which will also avail Sh1 billion,” he said. “The Muslims will also be happy because we are partnering with First Community Bank initially for about Sh80 million.”
The fund was established two years ago with an initial Sh1 billion. It has twice received top ups of Sh750 million in the 2007/08 budget and Sh500 million in the 2008/09 budget. The fund has however failed to meet the high demand and calls have heightened for its increase. Although these partnerships have more than doubled, Mr Wario said that this is still below the ever increasing demand.
“When we look at the numbers that require this money and what we have unlocked we are not able to reach the people we want to reach,” he said.
The CEO wants development partners and private sector to step in and help meet operational costs of the fund. Wario called for partnerships in capacity building, marketing the products and services and the monitoring and evaluation aspects of the fund so that the fund can be channelled to the core mandate of financing projects.
According to the Ministry, close to 50,000 enterprises have emerged since the fund was launched employing over 200,000 youths.
Mr Wario said that the fund which was transformed into a parastatal two months ago, is also working towards increasing accessibility to the rural and remote areas. With the Kenya Commercial Bank on board which has the largest network in the country, the CEO is confident that the fund will be more accessible.
“We will still have about 23 constituencies which will continue to be disadvantaged and we are looking at enhancing their constituency allocations so that when others are getting one million shillings we give them three million shillings,” Mr Wario announced. “Secondly we shall pilot direct financing ourselves in those areas; we may not be everywhere in these areas but we want to first get an entry.”
Mr Wario said that the parastatal is set to launch its three year strategy later in the month. To enhance the efficiency of the fund it is now focusing on business development training. “We have just finished training of all the district and divisional youth officers and it is these that we will use to train the youth groups and the youth leaders.
Besides financing the youth the fund is also tasked with the responsibility of linking the youths with employers both national and international. The CEO said that close to 1,000 have been facilitated for foreign jobs.