According to a recent survey conducted by the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), the youth in the 8 counties of Isiolo, Marsabit, Wajir, Mandera, Turkana, Garissa, lamu and Tana river, constitute about 29 percent of the population, with unemployment rate of about 53.6 percent. This means that if the youth bulge is harnessed, and engaging the youth in profitable ventures, it has the potential of growing the economy of the counties which have for a long time been marginalized; but if left untapped, the youth can become disillusioned and engage in crime and social ills. Already, most of the counties are grappling with drug abuse, radicalization, crime and cattle rustling. Towards ensuring that the youth in these counties are adequately engaged and get recognition to contribute their human capital to the wellbeing of the county, UNDP Kenya through the Integrated support to devolution project in partnership with the Kenya School of Government collaborated with the FCDC counties to train the youth on entrepreneurship and life skills.  The pilot project trained youth from Isiolo County and will be replicated in the 8 counties.

“We came up with the curriculum on Entrepreneurship and life skills for all the Frotier Counties because we noted that there was a need for business development skills among the youth to tap into emerging opportunities in the counties for supply of good and services, as well as tender opportunities specifically for youth and women” said Patrick Gachagua, the head of leadership and public policy at the Kenya School of Government.

Among the modules covered in the ten-day training include generating, identifying and selecting business ideas, developing a business plan, understanding record keeping, cash flow, savings and marketing concept as well as how to tap into accessing loans specifically targeting youth and women such as Uwezo Fund, youth fund and talanta fund. They also got firsthand experience when they toured business enterprises and universities in Nyeri and Embu Counties to learn the changing economic landscape from being job seekers to job creators and explore their own ways of creating employment and wealth.

“It has been one year since I graduated with a diploma, but I have not been successful in getting a job; so I started my own business of printing and designing Tshirts and selling to the youth in the area. The business has been slow, but now I know that I have acquired new business skills, I know that my sales and profits will increase” said Anand Joginder, a youth from Bulapesa Ward in Isiolo County

Abdulrazak Osman says that the training has opened his eyes to the many business ideas and opportunities available in the county and will embark on registering a company to provide services that are lacking in the area and offer support to the youth.

The 52 trainees also formed themselves into groups that they would work with, to enable them to support each other to grow their businesses, form companies together to enable them bid for tenders from the counties government and act as guarantors to each other to enable them access loans. They however called for support from the county, saying that the it should ensure that the County Integrated Development Plan is youth focused if they are to remove more people from poverty.

“We also call on the county to open up tertiary institutions where young people can enhance their technical skills and give bursaries as education is a critical tool in securing the county’s future” said Sumeiya Ibrahim also of Bulapesa Ward
The Kenya School of Government has promised to support the trainees as they launch their businesses, linking them with the county government and will also work with them to become mentors to other youth in the county to ensure more youth are informed and engaged. The project is supported by DFID.

First appeared here