KCB Group yesterday launched an ambitious KSh50 billion enterprise development program geared towards birthing a new cadre of youthful entrepreneurs within the informal sector to ease the country’s unemployment crisis.
The program dubbed “2JIAJIRI”, is expected to benefit at least 500,000 entrepreneurs in 5 years, thereby creating at least 2.5 million direct and indirect jobs.
The main objective, said KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara is to provide the beneficiaries with the vocational and enterprise development skills necessary to drive employment and wealth creation in selected sectors such agricultural enterprise, automotive engineering, construction, beauty and domestic services.
“We have worked out a comprehensive youth empowerment program informed by our belief that the youth hold the greatest sway in the pace and trajectory that the East African economy will take into the future,” said Mr Oigara. “We want to dignify the informal sector and give it the skills-set needed to churn the next generation of businesses for the informal sector” he added. The Bank has set aside KShs.10 billion annually in the next five years towards driving this enterprise development program over the funds which will be used largely to support small and medium businesses run by the youth.
While launching 2Jiajiri—which will be run through the KCB Foundation—, KCB Group Chairman Ngeny Biwott said the program fits well within Kenya government’s resolve to boost youth employment, potentially raising country’s economic prospects.
“We believe that through partnerships with organisations, we can redefine the youth unemployment challenges we are facing,” said Mr. Biwott “We are committing to changing the youth narrative in the country,” said the Chairman.
The program targets both existing (70%) and potential entrepreneurs (30%). For existing entrepreneurs, 2Jiajiri seeks to up skill and formalize the technical and enterprise skills of the selected youthful entrepreneurs. Upcoming entrepreneurs will receive technical skills, financial support for startups and business advisory services. Cognizant of the fact that not all are entrepreneurs, some of them will be linked to work-experience programs to give them hands-on training while exposing them to market opportunities.
Already, 2,000 youths have begun classes in 89 institutions spread across the country for the various 3-6 months courses. After their training, the graduates will be put under a 12 months incubation program.
“Entrepreneurship and innovation are an integral part of our DNA. We operate under innovative platforms and with an incubation program, we will promote ideas, offer mentorship, provide concepts and methods to create an optimal environment for free enterprise,” added Mr Oigara.
KCB Group believes that this program will be a game changer in the country where over one million young people enter into the labor market annually without any skills some having either dropped out of school or completed school and not enrolled in any college.
This is further compounded by the fact that almost 155,000 who join the labor market annually after completing training in Technical Vocational Education and Training Institutions or at the university to acquire skills that often do not meet the expectation of employers.
With statistics indicating that a total of over 1.3 million new employment places need to be created annually to meet the rising demand for jobs, this initiative will take advantage of the opportunities a large youth population offers while adequately tackling the skills gap challenge facing the country. Statistics show for example that the ideal rate of Engineers: Technicians: Artisans is supposed to be 1:13:60 but Kenya is currently at 1:3:13.