Machakos now officially joins Meru in owning a business incubation hub. The Hub is home to Agribiz clients and a resource centre for agribusinesses seeking assistance in their projects. The launch of the Hub, which took place on 14th March 2022, was graced by the Danida Head of Cooperation, Trine Grønborg and the EU Head of Cooperation, Irene Giribaldi. The two were joined by Machakos County Deputy Governor H.E. Francis Maliti, KCIC, represented by the Director Corporate Services, Ruth Ndegwa and Agribiz Programme beneficiaries.
The Hub, whose primary goal is to support agriculture in the County, is hosted at the Machakos Agricultural Training Center (ATC). The new Hub will unlock the enormous potential of agricultural technology across the region and enable local farmers to explore the latest innovations.
The AgriBiz programme is an agribusiness empowerment programme for youth and women in agribusiness in Kenya, targeting to support 2,400 individuals and groups to create 20,000 jobs. It is funded by the EU and Denmark (Danida) with KShs 5.1 billion, and KCIC is implementing it in collaboration with eight county governments in Kenya.
Trine Grønborg, the Danida Head of Cooperation, emphasized the need to focus on governments and the private sector to enable them to strengthen the linkages between them and the beneficiaries of the programme.
EU Head of Cooperation, Irene Giribaldi, informed that this programme was one of the EU flagship programmes because it was part of the Africa-Europe Alliance, which emphasizes a strong relationship between Africa and Europe based on sustainable investment and job creation.
In his keynote address, Machakos County Deputy Governor H.E. Francis Maliti said the BIH was informed by the challenges youth face, especially the SMEs, in acquiring the necessary information and skills to operate. He noted that he would fully support the project to ensure the growth of agriculture in the County.
“Witnessing the launch of this BIH is indeed an assurance that the future of the people of Machakos is bright. My administration will give you the necessary support to benefit more farmers and enhance agriculture in the region. We appreciate our partners, KCIC, believing in Machakos and the tremendous support we have received from EU and Danida,” the Deputy governor said.
One of AgriBiz’s beneficiaries, Pauline Okubasu, owner of Azaavi Foods, applauded the HUB launch as a sign of growth for more agribusiness ventures in the area. She spoke highly about how the programme enabled her to bounce back from the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. “My business was on the verge of collapsing when I enrolled for the AgriBiz programme. Luckily, I qualified, and KCIC has offered me financial and technical support. This support has taken my business to another level.” said the company owner who works with farmers to promote sustainable consumption of fruits.
Another beneficiary of the AgriBiz programme present during the launch is Regina Mutiso, owner of Sentewe Animal Feeds. Speaking about the support she received from the AgriBiz programme, she notes that her business has been able to expand thanks to the financial and technical assistance she has received from KCIC.
During the launch, Ruth Ndegwa said, “This launch serves as our first step in reaching our goal. Today, we have launched our second AgriBiz Business Incubation Hub to overcome the challenges that hinder the participation of women and youth in agriculture.”
The programme plans to set up six more Business Incubation Hubs (BIH) to serve as a one-stop shop for information, networking opportunities, advisory, and events.
With support from KCIC, stakeholders, County Government, and donors, AgriBiz clients have shown how far such support can elevate their businesses and open up new markets to flourish and grow financially.