In Kenya 60% of the population is composed of young people aged below 35 years. This group is defined as the youth, of which approximately 64% are unemployed. This could be an impediment to national growth as this is the most productive untapped workforce. An effective way of addressing the challenge is enhancement of entrepreneurship through promotion of small businesses adopting a cooperative model. It is in this spirit that the idea of enhancement of youth entrepreneurship project christened “I am a cooperator“was born.
About the project
This is a CIC Insurance Group funded project, the main partners being ABCIC and KCA University. The CIC, ABCIC, KCA University collaboration in the “I am a cooperator Phase 2 project” brings together the organizations inherent strengths in enhancement of entrepreneurship, academics, research and conservation. This effort sets a platform to promote youth initiatives in bio based enterprises as well as self reliance, creativity and/or innovation in the same. On 24th of April 2012 a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the parties dictating the project objectives and areas of collaboration was signed. Key objectives of the MoU included addressing and informing on the issue of youth unemployment while enhancing the cooperative movement coupled with promotion of conservation. At the same time the project aims at engaging the youth in national growth and job creation through constructive involvement in the cooperative movement and conservation.
Goals and objectives
The overall goal of the initiative is to enhance integration of the youth in national economic development and create employment opportunities through constructive engagement in cooperative movement and environmental conservation. It is envisaged that the goal will be achieved through the following objectives:
- To re-engineer and re-orient the cooperative movement models to be aligned with economic aspirations of women and the youth in Kenya
- To build capacity for nascent entrepreneurs to use cooperatives and nature based enterprises as a source of sustainable livelihoods
- To promote research in order to generate a body of knowledge on cooperatives and their underlying philosophies
- To create awareness among the youth about the role of cooperatives in economic development
- To create awareness on environmental conservation among the youth
- To engage the youth in biodiversity/natural resources based enterprises for sustainable livelihoods
- To provide opportunities for youth to form and or join cooperative societies and environmental conservation clubs
Since the MoU signing several events and activities have taken place notably the colourful launch held at KCAU grounds on 31st August 2012.The well organized event kicked off with tree planting by heads of the three partner organizations who went ahead to give inspirational speeches on the need for and potential of youth based bio based enterprises. The launch was well attended, each clothed in green t-shirts reading ‘I am a cooperator’, including several exhibitors running bio based enterprises who shed the light on the immense potential of biodiversity to provide essential goods and services of market value. The event set the stage for stakeholders to exchange ideas and embark on the project with renewed vigor while enjoying the sumptuous meal and breathtaking entertainment including comedy, music and poetry. Journalists ensured every happening was recorded in photo, video and writing. In enhancement bio based youth initiatives, ABCIC is working with youth groups from Mt. Kenya area by supporting viable bio based enterprises. To enhance research and development four graduate students from Kenyatta University are involved in intensive environmental research in selected case studies including determining the untapped economic potential of bamboo.