Bungoma County’s economy is mostly based on agriculture, with many households working in the sector. On the other hand, agricultural productivity has dropped over time as a result of climate change. Food security has been endangered, steering many people into poverty. The launch of Agribiz business incubation hub in the county brings new hope for women and youth in agriculture. The goal of the business incubation hub is to provide an environment that encourages youth and women to innovate and incubate agribusiness concepts.
The launch of the business hub took place at the Mabanga Agricultural Training Center (ATC). The Bungoma hub will serve the neighboring counties of Kakamega, Vihiga, Busia, and Trans Nzoia as a one-stop shop for information, networking opportunities, advisory, and mentorship. Danish Embassy (DANIDA) First secretary Sandra Sichlau, European Union (EU) Head of Agriculture, Job Creation and Resilience Myra Bernardi, KCIC group Ag. CEO Ruth Ndegwa and Bungoma Governor Hon.Wycliffe Wangamati and county officials were among the dignitaries present.
In his remarks during the hub launch, Bungoma Governor highlighted the importance of agriculture in the country. “Most of the opportunities in this county come from agriculture. So when you look at the program, it falls in line with what we do as a county. When we looked at the idea of AgriBiz programme to help the youth and women of this county, we can only say a big thank you to EU, Danida and KCIC,” said Hon Wangamati.
In her speech, the EU Head of Agriculture, Job Creation and Resilience Myra Bernardi insisted on why the AgriBiz programme focused on youth and women. “The average number of youth entering the job market in Kenya every year is 1.2M. There is need to create new businesses and new ideas for these numbers to get jobs. And that is what we are trying to contribute to,” she said. The EU is committed to contributing to agribusiness by reaching out to the youth and the rest of the population to work on programs that can deal with climate change and contribute to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
KCIC group Ag. CEO Ruth Ndegwa noted the importance of supporting youth and women and giving them an enabling environment to prosper in agribusiness. “Today we have given you a new home where you can walk in and do your meetings. You can have an opportunity to network and share ideas. We will continue to support you as you walk this journey,” said Ruth. The CEO also stated how KCIC is working closely with the county governments to develop an Agribusiness policy that will provide a conducive business environment to cater for youth and women in agriculture.
Agribiz programme supports innovation and climate-smart technologies and creates jobs for youth. The business hub will provide business advisory support services on governance,handling finances, and packaging products. The hub will also provide support services and initial funding for agricultural value chain, SMEs, community-based organizations, and start-ups including individual entrepreneurs. Some of these services have already begun to be provided, including training, incubation services, acceleration services, access to capital, provision of mentorship, and investor readiness.