Kenya’s economic growth has been strong relative to the average in the Sub-Saharan Africa region since 2010. The share of the working-age population rose from 47% in 1990 to 56% in 2014, and by 2050 it is expected to be 62%. This points towards a powerful ‘demographic dividend’ towards Kenya’s economic development – but charting a course towards realizing this has presented a challenge, and ensuring that historically marginalized groups including women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs) benefit equitably from development is critical for sustainable socioeconomic progress.
Today, Kenya’s workforce is overwhelmingly in informal employment: only 1.3m people work in the modern formal sector compared to over 12m in the informal economy. If the economy is to provide high quality jobs for the current and future generations of Kenyans, the country will need to capitalize on investments that have been and are being made in the services and manufacturing sectors, address supply chain constraints in high-demand sectors, such as horticulture, and nurture younger, smaller, promising sectors that share a common skills base. Agriculture constitutes around 60% of total employment, and incentives to integrate youth and women in agribusiness value chains – including market guarantees and incubation training – are increasingly policy tools of strategic focus.
UNDP’s Economic Empowerment Programme (EEP) promotes inclusive and equitable economic growth in Kenya and seeks to ensure that the poor and vulnerable participate in and benefit from economic growth. The formation of county-level Biashara [Business] Centres is a key intervention in the implementation of the EEP - these function as incubators for grassroots commercial ventures, acting as sites where primarily women, youths and PWDs can receive business advice, access to ICT facilities and funding to support their entrepreneurial activities. The introduction of Biashara Centres delivers change both at the macro-level, through acting as a subject of advocacy for entrepreneurialism and disseminating information about starting a grassroots business, and at the micro-level through support for micro and small-sized Enterprises (MSEs), economically excluded and vulnerable groups, and through the implementation of the African Supply Chain Development Programme.
The key objective of establishing Biashara Centres is to promote inclusive economic growth and job creation through supporting the implementation of MSE programmes and activities of the MTP II, in alignment with County Integrated Development Plans as well as county-level and sector specific needs and priorities. Key target beneficiaries are MSEs, support structures for women and youth, aspiring entrepreneurs, and MSE associations and/or small-holder communities. Other beneficiaries include medium-sized and large enterprises engaged in inclusive business approaches, or value-chain development programmes driving backward-forward market linkages, local business development service providers and financial institutions.
The following are key objectives of the EEP:
- Access to Business Development Services through the County Biashara Centres which are a one stop business development services and capacity building centre for entrepreneurs to incubate their businesses. The centres have already been launched in Kwale, Taita Taveta, Turkana and Marsabit Counties.
- Inclusive Business & Value Chain Development - this component supports value chain approaches as well as the development and testing of innovative business models for the poor and vulnerable through better understanding of the economic potential of various products especially in agriculture and livestock as well as in artisanal mining. It also seeks to increase access toindustry responsive skills approaches improved through Business Call to Action initiatives.
- Vocational, Industrial and Technical Training Potential for increased access to industry/market responsive skills and employability improved through the (i) development of a National Occupational Qualifications Framework for 5 sectors (ii) review of curriculum in 4 trade areas.