NAIROBI, November 11 – Nicholas Kinja is part of the success story of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. Immediately the government gazzeted the fund, he saw it as a chance to boost his ‘macro Yogurt production business’ and applied for a loan of Sh 400,000.The sole proprietor of John Food Products says the investment has seen his profit grow four-fold.
He started the business in 2005 but operating capital proved to be an immediate challenge. “I had a written proposal which the ministry advised that I present to the Kenya Industrial Estates – one of the intermediaries giving the funds,” an enthusiastic 27-year-old Kinja narrates.
Q. What did you do with the Sh400,000?
A. With three quarters of it, I purchased the equipment, while the rest became my operating capital. It was challenging to interlink all the resources, but thank God, the fund gives us a three months grace period.
Q. What difference has the fund brought to your business?
A. I now have five employees who I pay good money. I was also able to link up with other financial institutions for more funding using my bank statement. I remember there was a time I was struggling and I got a loan from Equity bank.
Q. The beginning of this year was bad for many businesses in the country, were you affected?
A. Business was very low. I also faced problems with some of my distributors who lost their premises. I went to the intermediaries and told them that the business was low. What I had is what I used to pay.
Q. Any lesson learnt?
A. In business, you have to persist. Even if things fail to work out, you never know what there is for you tomorrow.
Q. What is the future of John Foods Products?
A. I have a dream that one day as big companies like Brooke Side are doing, I too will get there.
Q. What is your message for the youth?
A. They have to change their attitude and be ready to sacrifice. You cannot wait there for someone to give you money that will not be accounted for, you are cheating yourself.
The Fund’s Chief Executive Officer Umuro Wario told Capital News that the parastatal is set to launch its three-year strategy. 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,” he said.
Demand has overstretched the fund and a top up of Sh500 million in this year’s financial year was way below expectation. Mr Wario said that they had expected over Sh3 billion. The fund is now in the final stages of signing partnerships with four financial institutions to increase the kitty with up to Sh2.7 billion. Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity Bank will each give Sh1 billion while Family Bank has pledged Sh700 million. First Community Bank is giving Sh80 million towards the fund.