Kenya is preparing a competition that will offer up to 3.6 million Kenyan shillings (approximately $35,000) in grants each 750 youths to create startups or expand their ventures in a programme meant to fuel entrepreneurship and tackle unemployment in the country.
This comes after the World Bank, which is funding the initiative, released 15 billion Kenyan shillings (approximately $148 million) it had committed to the project in 2016.
The business ideas competition is part of the wider Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) announced in 2016, geared to stem rising joblessness and promote shared prosperity.
Each of the winners will pocket a cash grant of between $9,000 (Kenyan Sh 918,000) and $36,000 (Kenyan Sh 3.6 million) based on the strength of their business pitch.
The Kenyan Micro and Small Enterprises Authority (MSEA), which will oversee the competition, has already invited bids from prospective organisers.
“MSEA seeks the services of a management consulting firm (consultants) to catalyse youth entrepreneurship for job creation through a business plan competition (BPC). As part of KYEOP, the BPC will expand new and existing youth-led enterprises with potential for job creation,” the agency said in a notice.
A team of independent judges will initially select a larger pool of 12,000 candidates countrywide, to be taken through three rounds of vetting before the list is narrowed to 750.
Kenya has the highest unemployment rate in the region, according to last year’s UN Human Development Index report.
Mass unemployment continues to affect the country despite the economy growing at an average of five per cent over the past eight years.
The programme targets young people aged between 18 and 29 years “who are without jobs and have experienced extended spells of unemployment, or are currently working in vulnerable jobs.”