Cultivating youth entrepreneurship through agribusiness

In Kenya, the average age of a farmer is 60 years. The 2009 census shows that out of a population of approximately 38 million people, youth (15-35 years) and children (0-14 years) together represent 78% of the Kenyan population. The Kenyan unemployment rate stands at approximately 40%. An estimated 64% of the country’s unemployed are the youth.

A large divide exists in the agricultural sector, despite the sector emerging as the second largest foreign exchange earner in the Kenyan economy.  The youth population has opted to abandon agriculture in pursuit of white collar job opportunities in urban centers and cities. In 2009, Christopher’s passion for agribusiness drove him to abandon active employment in the capital Nairobi 2009. In his early thirties at the time, Christopher opted to focus on production of horticultural products for the export market.

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In October 2011, Christopher enrolled for the UNDP Youth Entrepreneurship Development Training, under the Kenya National Youth Development & Training Programme (KNYD&T), in his hometown in Yatta. Christopher particularly appreciated the practical nature of the training that built up his skills in cash flow management; the essence of management that incorporates human resource and business risk assessment. The knowledge from the training has helped him raise the outputs of his firm by 30%. He now produces 7 tonnes of snow-peas daily, has actively taken part in business training and consulting services for 80 youth in Baringo district, mentors 15 professionals in agribusiness and offers consistent employment to 25 farm workers, largely women, on his farm.

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The KNYD&T programme was established in 2006 in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade and the Youth Enterprise Fund. This project seeks to enhance the capacity of Kenya’s Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) and the youth to unlock their potential. The two part training aims to transform the youth from job seekers to job creators, and make them more relevant to the development of the MSEs sector, which promises to be an engine for economic growth. Additionally, the programme is supporting the development of the Youth Polytechnics in skill upgrading programmes.

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Christopher says he is a fulfilled man, “This training has helped me self actualize…most people do not know themselves and unless you know yourself, you cannot be helped.” Additionally, Christopher is leading a youth mobilization initiative in his district in conjunction with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) to entrench a culture of entrepreneurship within the youthful population in Yatta. Christopher aptly sums up his resolve, “I am the face of the youth programme. Mine is to transform the youth and showcase the vast opportunities in store for their exploitation.”

 

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