Promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship among young people in Kenya

Project description

Title: Programme for Promotion of Self-Employment & Entrepreneurship
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) l
Country: Kenya
Co-funded by: German Development Bank (KfW)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development
Overall term: 2020 to 2023


Kenya faces great challenges in combatting unemployment, especially among young people. Two-thirds of the working population are between 15 and 34 years of age, while it is estimated that 80 per cent of Kenya's unemployed are young people. The ILO (International Labour Organisation) estimates that the youth unemployment rate has averaged 26 per cent over the last ten years (ILO 2017). This means that Kenya had the highest unemployment rate in East Africa in 2016. 

To fight youth unemployment, the programme aims to integrate employment approaches that will increase demand on the labour market (by creating more and better jobs), match labour supply and demand, and improving the economic and employment policy framework conditions. These include measures around business development services and access to financial services, with the aim of increasing job-creation in formal and informal young enterprises in selected industrial and service-oriented sectors.  


The job-creating growth of formal and informal young enterprises in selected industrial and service-oriented sectors is increased.


To improve the employability of young people the project works in the following fields:

Promoting market-based models: Young enterprises need to adopt market-based models that are innovative so that their businesses can grow. The programme will identify young enterprises with products and services that have a high market potential. These businesses will then be given access to industry-specific design-thinking seminars and linked to mentorship programmes with large corporations. Structured cooperation between large corporate partners and young enterprises can potentially lead to the generation and adaptation of market-oriented business ideas that will drive growth opportunities for the young enterprises.

Promotion of services for entrepreneurial skills: The programme is setting up accelerators and mentoring programmes at the sectoral level. Young enterprises with improved access to sector-specific training, coaching and mentoring are supported by improving their entrepreneurial capacity for further development. Training will also teach them how to diversify and market their products and services, which in turn will lead to better sales opportunities and business growth.

Improve access to needs-based financial services: To enhance the growth of young enterprises, access to needs-based financial services is critical. The programme is partnering with existing financial partners to offer basic financial education to selected young entrepreneurs so that they can build a strong credit profile for their enterprises. Providing young enterprises with the relevant information facilitates access to financial services, thus enabling them to stabilise their income and make investments that lead to higher growth.

As part of the programme initiatives, in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, the programme is facilitating the setting up of a Centre for Entrepreneurship located at Kenya Industrial Estates (K.I.E). The Centre will provide a space where young entrepreneurs can meet with mentors and other actors from the field of enterprise development to build their skills and develop functional networks.

Last update: March 2021