On Tuesday, 9th March 2021, The President of the European Council, His Excellency Charles Michel, made a courtesy visit to Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC) to witness at first hand the progress and impact of the AgriBiz Programme.
In the company of the European Council’s President was the Danish Ambassador Ole Thonke, Kenya Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development Honorable Betty Maina, Deputy Head of Delegation, EU Delegation to Kenya Katrin Hagemann. They were hosted by KCIC Board Chair Professor Pierra Da Silva, CEO Dr. Edward Mungai and other officials from KCIC.
During the visit, HE Charles Michel acknowledged the AgriBiz programme as an innovative way of supporting the value that lies in agriculture. He also noted that AgriBiz will be a key catalyst to the growth of the Kenyan agricultural sector.
“Agriculture provides the highest potential to create employment and offers the most jobs to youth and women. However, this potential is still untapped because most of the farmers practise subsistence farming. This means young people see agriculture as an unattractive venture or business to participate in. This is the narrative KCIC is changing under the AgriBiz programme and we are delighted to see the tremendous impact since the inception of the programme one year ago,” he said.
With the support of both the European Union and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), KCIC is implementing the KSh. 5.1 billion programme to support 2,400 women and youth to create and sustain agribusinesses, and thereby create at least 17,000 jobs by 2024.
“Agriculture has an important role to play in the global economy from providing main source of food, income and employment to rural homes. Therefore, programmes such as AgriBiz are fundamental to achieving food security, poverty alleviation and overall sustainable development.,” said Honorable Betty Maina.
The programme also aims to promote sustainable employment for youth and women by providing training, coaching and mentoring in the entrepreneurship and business skills needed to develop and run successful agricultural enterprises.
During the visit, Dr. Mungai shared the vision that KCIC has in regards to supporting women and youth-led agribusiness enterprises through a presentation to the President of the European Council.
“Agribusiness embraces our entire ecosystem and is the foundation of all other industries. Through this program, we are committed to assisting successful applicants to commercialize and develop their ideas into sustainable agribusinesses,” he said.
Clients under the programme also got a chance to exhibit their products and interact with DANIDA and the European Union. Present clients were Exotic EPZ, Nyuki hubs, Miyonga Fresh, Via Kwetu Limited, Botanic Treasures, Rainotech, Makueni Sisal, Utake Coffee and Kimplanter seedlings.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the agricultural sector contributes to 33 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector employs more than 40 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the rural population. However, agricultural productivity has stagnated in recent years due to the challenges that most smallholder farmers experience. Given the potential that lies within this sector, AgriBiz is keen on addressing these challenges.
The European Union notes that they chose to support Kenya because they recognize that smallholder farmers do not need handouts: they need an enabling environment to be successful market operators.
Currently, seven Kenyan counties have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) under the programme to promote the growth and development of the agribusiness sector through the provision of business incubation services to youth and women agri-prenuers. It is expected that eight Business Incubation Hubs will be established in total, covering entrepreneurs from all 47 counties as the hubs will serve neighboring counties as well.
AgriBiz programme is currently running a call for applications in Machakos county, Isiolo county, Uasin Gishu county and Kisii county. Women and youth agri prenuers within these counties and their neighboring counties are highly encouraged to apply through this link agribiz.kenyacic.org/apply.