Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) yesterday launched a 50 billion enterprise development programme geared towards supporting entreprenuers within the informal sector. This in a bid to ease the country’s unemployment crisis which is reported to be the highest in East Africa. The initiative is expected to benefit atleast 500,000 entrepreneurs thereby creating 2.5 million jobs.
The main objective, according to the KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara is to provide beneficiaries with the vocational and enterprise development skills necessary to drive employment and wealth creation in selected sectors such as agricultural enterprise, automotive engineering, construction, beauty and domestic services. To this end they have set aside Kshs. 10 billion annually for the next 5 years towards driving the initiative with the funds largely used to support small and medium businesses run by the youth.
The programme is targeting 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. While recognizing the fact that not everyone is an entrepreneur, some of them will be linked to work-experience programmes so as 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 programme.
The bank believes that the initiative will make a big difference in a country where over one million young people enter into the labour market annually without any skills. This is due to the fact that some have either dropped out of school or completed school and not enrolled in any college. This is further compounded by the fact that about 155,000 of those who join the job market after completing their education acquire skills that do not meet expectations of the job market. 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