Training Turns Fortunes Around For West Pokot Youth Group
Tired of job hunting, a group of young people in West Pokot explored a new path to empowerment – that of creating elusive job opportunities.
They had dropped out of school – most of them at elementary level, a fact that minimized their ability to secure formal employment.
The first setback in their new venture came calling - raising capital. Banks turned down their loan request making them resort to individual contributions to raise capital.
The group has a different experience to share today since being considered a threat back in 2012. A local leading bank has embraced them; it has not only availed a loan to them but also trained them on financial matters.
Meet Chepareria Butchers Self Group, a leading distributer of goat meat in Chepareria, West Pokot. The group is not only generating profits to benefit its members, but the community as well – many youth work in its seven butcheries in the area.
It all started with the individual collection of KSH.10,000 that led to the opening of the first two butcheries, the only ones that dealt in goat meat in the area.
Since goat meat attracts higher demand than beef in the County, they were forced to scale-up supplies.
“What started like a toy idea was real,” Raymond recalls. “We had to beef up our supplies hence the need to [secure] financial capital.”
Since their earlier application was rejected, the group opted to change tact. They sought interventions of a USAID youth focused Program – Kenya Youth Employment and Skills (K-YES) that works in the area.
“They convened a business training for us that proved useful on how we could package and position ourselves as a credible entity,” Raymond reveals.
After the training, the team successfully applied for a Sh. 1.3 Million (about $130,000) loan from KCB Bank that enabled business expansion. “We have grown – increasing our stock to meet the demand. We have tenders to supply meat in many institutions in the County,” he notes.
What started as a toy idea has turned into serious business with a monthly turnover of KES 600,000 ($6000). Raymond credits the business training as a catalyst for success. “It was an eye opener, it changed the way banks view our creditworthiness. Despite having dropped out of school, we are now viewed as an entity with requisite knowledge and skills,” he notes.
While access to financial capital hinders the progress of many start-ups, the experience of the Chepareria Group shows that sometimes knowledge on how to package and maximize on access to available financial opportunities is crucial.
Apart from the loan, KCB Bank through its sister organization – KCB Foundation continues to provide training to the group on financial management matters.
It is estimated that 80% of start-ups fail due to a host of reasons including lack of motivation, negative cash flow, and poor organizational skills.
Financial Inclusion Expert Patrick Nyamai adds that stringent conditions imposed by banks serve as a firewall for most young loan applicants.
“Most youth are unemployed and lack collateral,” he observes. “Furthermore, a negative attitude also exists regarding loans.”
There is need to sensitize youth on such factors and how to mitigate against them. Taking advantage of friendly financial services including SACCOs, Merry-go-rounds or Village Saving and Loaning Associations at the grassroots have also proved effective in many instances.
The USAID-funded Kenya Youth Employment and Skills program seeks to improve livelihoods of young people through acquisition of skills and linkage to job opportunities. Since inception four years ago, the program has empowered 41,000 youth with jobs in nine counties in the country with West Pokot accounting for 5% of the chunk.