At least 200 start-ups and early stage agribusiness enterprises have been selected for support by the AgriBiz programme that is funded by the European Union (EU) in Kenya.
Agribusinesses selected for the programme will benefit from training, business advisory and financing to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and encourage appropriate agribusiness practices.
The technical advice will be provided to all selected agribusinesses through business incubation hubs set up in eight counties which include Kilifi, Machakos, Kiambu, Meru, Isiolo, Kisii, Bungoma and Uasin Gishu.
The programme that aims to create 17,000 jobs in the agricultural sector across the country, particularly for youth and women also aimst at increasing smallholder production, improve food security and boost household incomes.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
AgriBiz will achieve this by funding 2,400 women and youth-led agribusinesses as part of the programme, and by reaching over 1.2 million smallholder beneficiaries over a period of five years at a cost of Kshs 5.1 billion.
An additional Kshs 17.1 billion in loans will also be leveraged from local financial institutions to support the enterprises.
Since Kenya is largely an agricultural country, investments in SMEs in the agribusiness sector will also help the economy to bounce back from COVID-19.
H.E Simon Mordue, EU Ambassador to Kenya underlined, “The huge interest in AgriBiz is an indicator that, contrary to popular opinion, women and youth are embracing agribusiness activities.
The EU with Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) is providing the various forms of business support that they need.
By bringing in young people and women into the sector, and in the process creating over 17 000 jobs across Kenya, we are helping to boost the sustainability of the Kenyan agricultural sector and to move it up the value chain.”
In the current selection round, KCIC meticulously selected 200 candidates from amongst the 2,400 applications received after a highly competitive evaluation process.
The 200 candidates include early stage/start-up companies, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), women and youth-led community based organisations, as well as Self Help Groups.
The applications from women and youth-led agribusinesses that were selected were those that demonstrated the best scalability and potential for replication and growth of their product or service, and thus the biggest potential to increase incomes for value chain stakeholders.
“We are impressed that we have received an overwhelming response to the call from across the country, an indication there are so many agribusinesses out there seeking different forms of support to spur their growth,” said KCIC Chief Executive Officer Edward Mungai at the close of the evaluation exercise.
Other attributes that were considered for selection included; Business model feasibility which shows a clear and compelling mission to grow a sustainable and commercially viable agribusiness enterprise; The potential to adopt and leverage smart approaches that drive the growth of the agribusiness; Social impact which includes the potential to create decent employment opportunities for youth and women; And market opportunity, including knowledge and understanding of the agricultural and livestock value chain, of customers’ needs, and competitors approaches.
Over a five-year period the AgriBiz programme will overall support over 1,600 enterprises to develop bankable business plans, 1,200 enterprises to access financing from financial institutions and over 1500 women to access EU supported community level micro financial services.