BY KNA’s Kibe Mburu/ Daizy Chebet
Uwezo fund which is a flagship program for Vision 2030 that enables women, youth, and Persons with Disabilities to access finances to promote their businesses and enterprises at the constituency level has continued to impact positively on registered groups in constituencies within Kericho County with a majority of the groups engaging in agribusiness projects.
According to the Kericho East Sub-County Uwezo fund manager Gladys Kippngok, 135 groups of women, youth, and Persons with disabilities have benefitted from the Uwezo fund since the year 2015 transforming their lives tremendously.
Kipngok was elated to report that the fund has enhanced economic growth and promoted Sustainable Development Goals of eradicating extreme poverty, and hunger, promoting gender equality, and empowering women.
Injerian Widows and Widowers group in Injerian village, Kapsaos Division, on the outskirts of Kericho town is a testament to the transformative ability of the Uwezo Fund that jump-started their entrepreneurial dream after they qualified for their Sh100,000 loan.
The group which comprises seventeen women and one man began in the year 2017 as a table banking group before they decided to get registered and apply for the Uwezo fund.
Speaking to KNA, Injerian Widows and Widowers group chair Jane Kerich said the funds enabled the group to acquire three tents, seats, and kitchen utensils for hire to clients with events within the village.
“Uwezo fund boosted our savings and enabled us to buy all this equipment for events which earn the group at least Sh50, 000 per month,” added Kerich
Kerich revealed that the group now plans to buy a car that would enable them to run their business errands with ease and also use it for hire to clients for transportation of agricultural products.
“We have employed strategies that will enable us to acquire more funding to buy a car which will increase our income as a group,” Kerich remarked.
Another registered mixed-gender group at Binyiny village in Tendwet location, Kipkelion East Sub-County also narrated how Uwezo Fund boosted the group’s banana farming project.
Emitiot Binyiny Self Help Group Secretary Evelyne Chebochok was elated to report that the group had completed the payment of their first Uwezo fund loan and looking forward to applying for more funds to boost their farming projects.
“We also benefitted from training on farming practices from the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) that enabled us to start banana farming and currently we have over 100 banana plantations as a group while each member has at least 20 plantations of the same,” said Chebochok
However, the group urged the government to facilitate more training on business and financial management noting that a majority of members had little to no literacy on managing personal finances, record keeping, taxation, and group dynamics.
“We also as a merry-go-round group which has been beneficial to us for years but not very profitable and so we would also want to be trained on how to start and run a table banking group, which we believe is more profitable.” Added Chebochok
The Kericho East Sub-County Uwezo fund manager urged more registered women and youth groups to apply for the funds saying for a group to qualify, it must be registered with the relevant government body with a valid group registration certificate.
Kipngok added that for youth groups; 70% of the members must be youth aged between 18 and 35 and the leadership of the group, 100% youth, while women groups must have at least 70% of women and leadership, 100% women.
“The applicant group must apply for the loan from the constituency, be appraised and recommended for funding by the respective constituency,” mentioned Chepngok.
A statement from Uwezo fund indicates, since inception, the Fund has disbursed more than Sh 7.2 billion and directly supported 1,124,221 beneficiaries of which 69% are Female and 31% are Male through the provision of affordable and accessible credit, capacity building on entrepreneurship skills, basics on bookkeeping and market linkages and networking.