Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday unveiled the Sh6 billion Uwezo Fund, a culmination of the Jubilee Coalition's pledge of propelling the youth and women to the centre of national prosperity.
Speaking during the launch of the Fund in Nairobi, the President said the Government was not merely disbursing money to the youth but incubating enterprise.
"We are catalysing innovation. We are promoting industry. We are employing the youth. And we are growing the economy," President Kenyatta said.
He added: "Every encounter between the Jubilee Coalition and the young people of Kenya never fails to produce spectacular national transformation. This launch is another such encounter."
The President assured the youth that his Government will keep its promise and not allow any obstacle to be an excuse to neglect them at their hour of need. He said the greatest single asset the country has is its young people and that is why the Jubilee Coalition is empowering them to play their role in nation building effectively.
"Where there is no way, we shall make it. That is why I invite every young person in Kenya to get ready for action, and to join the national conversation. My Government is your friend. The Jubilee Coalition is your collaborator," he told the youth.
Deputy President William Ruto said the Uwezo Fund would mainstream the youth and women in development by enabling them to access capital to start businesses.
The Deputy President said the Jubilee Government is also expanding the education curriculum to grow the talent of young people and give them an opportunity to participate effectively in nation building.
"If we are to succeed in growing the economy by double digit, we have to tap the talent, the expertise and capabilities of the youth and women," the Deputy President said.
President Kenyatta expressed confidence that the Fund would initiate a 'multiplier effect' throughout the economy, as a new stream of entrepreneurs unleash energy into various sectors.
President Kenyatta said with the Fund in place, agribusiness and digital innovation would be revamped to enable the youth to play their role in accelerating economic growth. The President said he would personally recognise and interact with exemplary projects every year.
The President advised the youth to work with the Management Steering Committee of the Uwezo Fund to ensure transparency and equity in disbursement of the Fund.
The funds will be disbursed directly to beneficiaries through the Constituency Development Fund framework, under the administration of committees that has been established at each constituency.
The Head of State rooted for close partnership between the Jubilee Coalition and the youth. He said Government will focus on a consistent engagement with young people to transform the country.
"Let us continue our conversation and partnership. Please go forth and accomplish your dreams," President Kenyatta urged the youth.
The President said Government will, through universities, colleges and institutes of technology, equip the youth with requisite skills to service a modern economy.
He disclosed that a nationwide audit of skills and competencies will be conducted to help align training opportunities and resources with the country's actual needs at the national and county levels. A policy on internship is being developed to avail on-the-job training for all college students who need it, the President added.
"The challenge here is establishing a set of incentives for industries and businesses to respond positively. But conversation with stakeholders is underway," he said.
President Kenyatta said the youth-specific affirmative action in Government procurement to enable enterprises run by young people participate in development is also being effected already. He directed that the issue of 30 per cent allocation of all Government procurement to the youth should be adhered to, warning those who will fail to effect the directive will be sacked.
He said Government will set up centres of innovation to support the emerging generation of highly talented, innovative Kenyans.
The President thanked the young people of Kenya for their unstinting support and stupendous energy that they lent the Jubilee Coalition.
"You brought us into Government. Already, you have made a significant contribution to national transformation. We have first-hand, incontestable proof of what young people can achieve when given an opportunity," the President said.
He said Government will consistently tackle the challenges inhibiting the youth from exploiting their talents.
(Story by Kazungu Chai)