Institutionalizing informed policies, a solution to Kenya’s youth unemployment

Institutionalizing informed policies, a solution to Kenya’s youth unemployment

The Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) has given an impetus to the ongoing Kenya-wide concerns on the need to institutionalize the use of evidence in the country’s policy making, implementation, and evaluation. This is timely as the country continues to grapple with youth unemployment despite the existence of different policies and regulations-the most recent being the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (2007)[1] and Kazi Kwa Vijana.[2]

Speaking at English point Marina, Mombasa-Kenya in a conference convened by the Partnership for African Social Governance and Research-PASGR, CABE, executive director Dr. Hannington Odame expressed concern that the agricultural sector which accounts for 34 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and a key driver of Kenya’s economy provided little traction for the youth. Odame noted that agribusiness provides the greatest employment opportunity for the youth, who the International Labour Organization reports their unemployment rate to be 35 percent of the population.

Evidence informed policy making is not institutionalized.

The conference held between 25 to 26 February 2021 brought together collaborative houses (CABE, Pamoja trust, African Platform for Social Protection and Institute of Policy Analysis and Research-Rwanda) under Utafiti Sera house, a program implemented by PASGR.

Presenting different studies, the four houses agreed that evidence-based policy making has not been institutionalized in Kenya and Africa at large. Agreeing further that existing policies are not comprehensive and that related interventions are not sustainable; the houses questioned the role of policy culture in evidence use by government departments in Africa.

The social dimension

A section of youth in agribusiness

The houses highlighted the importance of the social element to stakeholder engagement. “What do socio-economic survey inform? How do we share information of the data collected and how does it engage with the implementation of the projects?” posed Samuel Olando, executive director, Pamoja Trust. Olando adds that the consideration of social dimensions is important since it helps in stakeholder engagement frameworks.

Emphasizing on a need for a comprehensive approach which recognizes social, economic, political, and ethical dimensions, the houses called for a multi stakeholder approach to evidence based policy making. “partnership with KCDMS through KEPSA and the County government of Makueni to identify gaps and challenges for youth employment in the agro production has borne fruits. This is illustrated by successful engagements with the CEC Agriculture, Makueni, as a key participant – under the auspice of “Feed the Future Program” housed by Makueni, USAID, Alternatives, RTI and CABE,” says Waithera Gaitho, executive director, Alternatives Africa.

Way forward

The Utafiti Sera interhouse conference is a step in the right direction on the need to entrench the uptake of evidence-based policy making in Kenya. Cognizant that policy engagement is not a short-term goal, hence requiring intergenerational partnerships, the houses commit to engage individual policy makers and actors; and learn from what works to seize relevant and evolving partnerships through an integrated approach to achieve a practical, sustainable, comprehensive policy on youth employment. Achievement of this will require trust building, policy dialogue and an appreciation of the role of policy culture (the way different governmental departments embrace the use of evidence in informing policies) in building an ecosystem of evidence use in policy making. Subsequently, implemented evidence-based policies will effectively help the Kenyan government to achieve its goals such as youth employment creation.

WFE empowers a woman entrepreneur in Kisumu County

WFE empowers a woman entrepreneur in Kisumu County

Young woman entrepreneur tells of her experience during the Global Food Challenges Programme Second Mid-Term Review (MTR) meeting in Nairobi. (small subtitle)

This interview was conducted by Ms. Eunice Likoko, University of Amsterdam (UvA) Ph.D. Student.

Jennifer Atieno is a woman entrepreneur and a farmer in Kisumu. She came to know about the Women Food Entrepreneurs research project in the first field familiarization visits by the Ph.D. researchers with community-based women groups in Kisumu city slums.  In January 2018, she participated in the Food and Business Knowledge Platform Second Mid Term Review meeting in Nairobi and this was her comment: “I learned new ways on how as a farmer and entrepreneur I can improve food and nutrition plus generate income. The meeting also enlightened me on new food preservation methods.”

11 Kenyan Agri-Businesses tackling food security set to receive USD 100,000 investment

11 Kenyan Agri-Businesses tackling food security set to receive USD 100,000 investment

Eleven Kenyan agribusinesses tackling food security have been selected for the Food Africa Accelerator program in Kenya. The three-month accelerator program will support these women and youth-led agribusinesses towards the investment of up to USD 100,000 to scale their businesses. The accelerator program, which was launched in July is a project commissioned by GIZ Make-IT in Africa, a project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by @iBizAfrica, Strathmore University’s business incubator, and Pangea Accelerator (a Norwegian based accelerator and an investment platform operating in East Africa that matches African start-ups with investors), foundations and development agencies to reach a global scale.

The competitive application process saw the accelerator receive over 420 applicants in Kenya according to Linda Kwamboka, entrepreneur-in-residence, and iBizAfrica’s Manager. She added that “we received over 700 applications, some across Africa and 424 Kenyan applicants. This proves our hypothesis that there are plenty of innovators in the agriculture sector. The diversity in agribusiness sub-sectors has been well represented- ranging from credit access to food manufacturing. We are also grateful for the support of ecosystem players including Viktoria Ventures, Luminate Group who have supported the shortlisting process.

Joining its first cohort, the ten [WTGK1] businesses will undergo mentorship and coaching as well as investor readiness as they begin the process of investor matching. Speaking after their selection, Dysmus Kisilu, Co-Founder of Solar Freeze, a post-harvest solution for smallholder farmers remarked, “we are excited to be part of the Food Africa Accelerator which offers a chance for start-ups like ours to collaborate, grow and shape the new vision of a food secure Africa through youth-led innovation.

Jonas Tesfu, Co-Founder and CEO of Pangea Accelerator also added, “we believe Kenya and East Africa are at a critical time and that innovation and young entrepreneurs have a big role to play in creating resilient and local food systems.”

The accelerator comes at a time when the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture has vowed to sustain ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector in order to boost production and bring value to farmers. Further, it also comes after a recent report by the Kenya Food Security 2019 Steering Group revealed that approximately 1.3 million people in Kenya are currently facing a crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity, which has been further exacerbated by Covid-19 and the locust plague. Tracy Weru, Program Coordinator for GIZ Make-IT in Africa stated, “we are happy with the traction this program has received so far and are looking forward to supporting the 11 start-ups.”

The eleven selected start-ups joining the accelerator are;

IFarm360 – A digital crowd farming platform that brings together farmers, investors and markets to enable farming as a business.

SolarFreeze – A pioneering start-up providing mobile cold storage units powered by renewable energy for rural smallholder farmers to help them reduce the huge challenge of post-harvest loss.

Shamba Records – A distributed ledger that runs on Blockchain technology and uses big data and artificial intelligence to collect farmer’s data and process payments to farmers.

Ecodudu – a waste-to-value company that uses a proprietary innovation to recycle organic waste into high-protein animal feed and organic fertilizer using the black soldier fly.

Faina Innovation –  a company that has developed a farm sanitation product (Solarbag®) for management of fruit fly and other pests. The product is also used for rapid on-farm production of compost fertilizer and soil sterilization.

Mhogo Foods – The company adds value to the cassava tubers by processing them into affordable, nutritious gluten-free flour, cassava crisps, cassava starch and cassava based animal feeds.

Digicow – a record keeping mobile application for both smallholder and enterprise farmers engaged in dairy farming enabling them to increase their profits through data driven decision making.

Mula Exports – a grower and exporter of fresh produce (fruits and veggies) in Kenya.The company also contracts small scale farmers to complement production and raise living standards by providing the smallholders with a ready market for their produce.

Origen Group – are producers of high quality cold pressed avocado oil made from the finest grown hass and fuerte Kenyan avocados for the export market.

Taste Afrique – are manufacturers of Chibundiro, a mixture of grounded natural spices to enhance nutritional value for consumers.

FreshPro Farms – a data-driven agribusiness consumer demand for fresh produce with farmers production capacity creating a seamless business model devoid of the waste and inefficiency associated with agriculture.

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