It is a new dawn for youth in Kwale as Invest in Africa (IIA) in collaboration with Base Titanium Limited unveils a business acceleration program to formalize and catalyze the growth of youth-owned/led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Kwale County. The initiative, named the Kwale Youth Biashara Program, involves formalizing businesses, business skills and finance training, digital skills training, business coaching, and linkages to market and finance. Under this initiative, IIA will provide young entrepreneurs with tailored capacity building through training sessions and boot camps. The young entrepreneurs will also have an opportunity to onboard their businesses onto the Biashara.Now, IIA’s unique technology-based business membership platform, to access procurement opportunities within the IIA network among other business services.
Youth make up to 75% of the Kenyan population, according to the 2019 Population and Census results. This statistic means that the country stands on the runway of economic take-off if it finds the best way to harness the energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship that young people can offer.
However, young entrepreneurs in Kenya face a myriad of challenges that curtail their success in the entrepreneurship venture. Lack of business skills and experience is one of the main setbacks ailing the take-off of youth-led businesses. Research has shown that most MSMEs, the majority of which are youth-led, do not have a business plan, are not formally registered, and do not have financial records. These MSMEs do not meet the minimal criteria to access industry opportunities, including the necessary financing to grow.
According to a 2022 survey conducted by IIA in Kwale, young entrepreneurs lack the business and digital literacy skills needed to run an enterprise successfully. The survey also revealed that most youth-led enterprises do not have access to finance and trade opportunities due to a lack of the requisite compliance and a failure to meet procurement requirements. These findings agree with an earlier study undertaken in 2020 by IIA in Kwale and Turkana Counties: The impact of COVID-19 on Rural Small and Growing Businesses and Recommended Measures to build their long-term Resilience.
The Kwale Youth Biashara Program comes in handy to enable young entrepreneurs to navigate the modern-day business environment. The program will equip the participating entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to formally run their businesses. It will also support them throughout their compliance journeys by ensuring they can register their enterprises and acquire the obligatory trade requirements. Through coaching, which is part of the program, the entrepreneurs will understand and incorporate key business elements such as ESG, investor readiness, and entrepreneurship mindset shift. This intervention will improve trade for youth-led businesses by allowing them to fully trade in the various value chains and position them for funding opportunities. By signing up for Biashara Now, the youth-led enterprises can apply for tender opportunities from big, developed enterprises such as Base Titanium Limited, which form part of IIA’s network of corporates, multinationals, and development partners.
IIA’s vision is to be the leading network in accelerating trade and investment with small and growing businesses in Africa. The organization hopes to achieve this by empowering enterprises to create sustainable jobs by improving access to skills, markets, and finance. The Kwale Youth Biashara Program, under the partnership with Base Titanium Limited, aligns with one of IIA’s key focus areas to engender the inclusion of youth in enterprise to champion inclusive private sector growth and catalyze MSMEs.
IIA acknowledges partnership as a core value and is keen to collaborate with key players in the business field to implement initiatives geared toward driving sustainable economic prosperity. The organization recognizes the immense contribution of MSMEs to the Kenyan economy. As such, IIA understands the need to empower high-potential groups such as the youth to grow MSMEs as key to bolstering the economy.