We must appreciate that young people are full of energy, innovative and ambitious. Unfortunately, they are faced with major challenges in the realms of higher education, health, participation in decision-making processes, but most importantly are heavily affected with the surging unemployment rates.

In Kenya, about 67% of the youth are unemployed, and this challenge has not only been attributed to slow absorption rates but also lack of employable skills required by the 21st century employers. As such, there is need to strengthen and scale up sustainable measures targeting quality skill development and employment creation for the youth.

In working to improve the livelihoods of the youth in Kenya, The African Centre for Women Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT), is working in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, The Children and Youth Foundation and the County Governments of Busia and Trans Nzoia to implement the Ngazi Youth Empowerment Program.

The program targets standard 8 graduates and seeks to empower the beneficiaries with vocational skills, ICT skills, life skills for everyday life and work place and entrepreneurship skills so that they support the economic and social development of their communities

Due to the slow absorption of the youth into labor market every year, there has been an increased desire to propel young people to become job creators and not job seekers. In pursuit of this goal the Ngazi Youth Empowerment project carries out entrepreneurship competitions for its beneficiaries with the aim of awarding the best business plans with start-up kits.

 

The first entrepreneurship competition award ceremony in Busia County took place at Amaase Vocational Training Centre. The event was graced by Busia County Executive Committee Member for Education, Mr. Hillary Mukhulu, as the Chief Guest.

At the ceremony, Mr. Hillary Mukhulu, stated that the youth have better ideas and they need to let them known.

“The future is bright if the youth are accorded entrepreneurship opportunities and the Department of Education encourages those groups who have not been awarded to work closely us so that they are supported to come up with bankable business plans,” said Mr Mukhulu.

He emphasized the need to support the winners of the start-up kits through their entrepreneurial venture to manage group dynamics as well as assist them through the challenges that they may face.

Further, he encouraged the beneficiaries to be ambassadors of the project and promised them that the county will support them in accessing government jobs and tenders.

Ms. Alice Mbui, Master Trainer Entrepreneurship ACWICT, said a total of 26 groups from the program in Busia County submitted their business plans, however the program will only award the ten best.

“The mission of the entrepreneurship competitions is to allow each beneficiary to have knowledge of developing business plans. We also wanted the beneficiaries to set up their own businesses so that they are able to employ other people,” said Ms. Mbui.

In addition she applauded all the teams for taking the bold step to own their businesses.

The Program Manager, Mr. Samson Orao said, “I believe this initiative will sensitize more youth to join the program and ACWICT encourages the county to buy into the program and roll it out to reach more beneficiaries.”

The winners were encouraged to make good use of the start-up kits to realize good economic returns.