KENYA – The European Union agribusiness programme dubbed AgriBiz, launched in Kenya to address the key challenges that hinder youth and women from tapping into the immense potential that the agricultural sector has to offer, has selected 200 women and youth led enterprises for the support.

The 200 beneficiaries were selected from 2,400 applicants after a rigorous vetting process, who will benefit from the ksh. 22.2 billion (US$206m) financing over the next five years.

The program is undertaken by the EU in partnership with the Kenyan government, the Royal Danish Embassy and the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC).

It will be implemented by KCIC in eight selected counties in the country where business Incubation Hubs will be set up i.e. in Kilifi, Machakos, Kiambu, Meru, Isiolo, Kisii, Bungoma and Uasin Gishu.

“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.

According to reports by Kilimo News, the businesses 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.

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.

In addition they also checked for the business 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.

The 200 selected 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.

They will benefit from training, business advisory and financing to promote the sustainable use of natural resources and encourage appropriate agribusiness practices.

“The huge interest in AgriBiz is an indicator that, contrary to popular opinion, women and youth are embracing agribusiness,” says H.E Simon Mordue, EU Ambassador to Kenya.

“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,” he added.

Over a five-year period, the programme will support over 1,600 enterprises to develop bankable business plans, 1,200 enterprises to access financing from financial institutions and over 1,500 women to access EU supported community level micro financial services.

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