Prior to its ascension to power, the jubilee government made a promise to eradicate youth unemployment by providing incentives to the youth. Part of this was to ensure the youth became gainfully employed or were able to come up with profitable businesses that would cater for their needs as well as be able to employ others. In this light, the government launched the Uwezo fund- a programme aimed at making it possible for the youth, women and people with disabilities to access finances to start and run their enterprises especially at the constituency level. This would in turn lead to the realization of the country’s vision 2030 as well as the attainment of the millennium development goals 1 and 3.
Uwezo fund, administered through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) office, operates as a revolving fund ensuring continuity and sustainability. The requirement is that you have to be part of a group to be eligible to receive the fund. The best part is that these groups are trained before receiving the fund, beneficiaries are linked to the 30% access to the government procurement opportunity and the fund does not attract any interest.
Leaders from different parts of the country, including the president, have urged the youth to take advantage of the fund instead of idling and complaining about lack of jobs. These leaders have lamented that this fund is underutilized thus not helping to address the unemployment problems Kenya faces. A spot check in some constituencies around Nairobi shows a low uptake of the fund by the youth which could be attributed to the following factors:
Feasibility of an idea
Success of any business is pegged on how sound and viable an idea is. As a business owner you want to reap benefits from what you do and therefore your idea should lead to this. Many young people have formed groups and applied for this fund only to be disappointed because their idea was not feasible to warrant it. On the other hand, there are youth who think they are not creative enough to come up with an idea that can be funded. This has made them to shy away from this fund.
Lack of skills to run a business
Although the beneficiaries are trained on business development services and mentorship programmes, table banking, 30% access to government procurement opportunities and general information on Uwezo fund, this training is devoid of the technical know-how required to run a business. The youth lack workplace experience which makes them fear that they would fail in running their own businesses.
Attitude towards loans
We have been raised in a society where if you default in your loan payment, chances are you will be auctioned and probably be left with nothing. Loans also attract high interest rates making it a little bit difficult to pay back without complaining. The Uwezo fund terms are that it won’t attract any interest rates and the beneficiaries have six months grace period and two years from the expiry of the grace period to repay the loan. However, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Loans are loans. The youth have a perception about loans that make them shy away to apply.
Laziness on part of the youth
When you are in your 2os is is when youth are most energetic and can make the best of the energy to do stuff that will affect their future. Sadly, the modern youth are so hooked on trivial businesses that focus is shifted from being industrious. Save for a few who take time to crunch the numbers, understand the markets or just do something productive with their lives, a majority of the youth are too lazy to even take time to research on businesses they could start and run. Without any idea on what t0 do with their lives, the youth do not apply for these funds.
Lack of information about the fund
If you are really interested in something, you have to make conscious effort to learn about it. You must do your homework. You have to have all the details at your finger tips. These pointers also apply for the Uwezo fund. It is unfortunate that a good number of young people are unaware of the existence of this very important fund. Some of those who know about it have the wrong information. To compound this problem, this wrong information is passed onto other people who perceive the fund as unimportant and pointless to apply for.
Unless the youth decided to become more serious, they will continue to wallow in poverty as about Kshs. 6 billion Uwezo fund lies idle in the bank. Apply for and learn more about Uwezo fund.