Rural youth agribusiness development through business mentorship

The Business mentorship aspect of Vijabiz project has changed many lives, advanced businesses which are today, homes to greater inventions, worthy successes and greater ideas….each passing day.

For individuals, through the knowledge and experiences of impactful mentors, they have leapfrogged the learning process. They have learnt to avoid making the same mistakes and are encouraged to take up even more responsibilities while aiming for higher!

  • CoELIB-Egerton University and Demand Link Business Solutions  were contracted to offer business mentorship to the youth groups  from March 2019 until the end  of the project… Two mentorship sessions are conducted per youth group every month.
  • The tool also helps to monitor changes in job creation and access to finance of the youth groups over time. These then help to document business growth and related outcomes and/or impact.
  • Through the Vijabiz mentorship programme we have seen youth groups increasing their wealth, creation, employment opportunities and thus improving the economic conditions in their counties. This should be replicated in other counties to help the youth who have not yet been reached.
  • The mentorship M&E tool is a comprehensive and dynamic tool  that captures detailed information  on the mentorship process. The tool tracks changes in specific business performance indicators over time to allow for documentation of outcomes

The Vijabiz project is supporting 163 youth groups doing business in the cereals, fisheries, dairy and poultry value chains in rural areas of Kilifi and Nakuru counties.

Consequently, CoELIB-Egerton University and Demand Link Business Solutions have been mentoring the 163 youth group beneficiaries.

Today, the youth groups have enhanced their entrepreneurial skills, identified niche markets and products and created jobs for themselves and other youths.

The mentorship has also resulted in specific outcomes for some youth groups particularly direct access to finance, business growth and efficient financial management.

As this is a continuous process, more specific outcomes will be captured using the dynamic monitoring and evaluation tool developed for that purpose.

‘Agriculture provides the highest potential to create employment and offers most of the informal jobs for the rural youth. However, this potential is untapped because most of the farmers are smallholders and practice subsistence farming, which makes the youth see agriculture as an unattractive and dirty venture or business to participate in’

Demand Link Business Solutions handles 111 groups (49 in Kilifi and 62 in Nakuru counties) while CoELIB mentors the remaining 52 groups in Naruku.

Mentors have engaged the groups on many issues including personal development, listening skills, leadership, group dynamics, market and marketing strategies, product development, prudent financial management and governance structures.

During these sessions, mentors share their experiences with mentees within the groups to grow other members and consequently, their businesses.

Through various tools developed for the mentorship, mentors explain and demonstrate to the mentees their specific roles and responsibilities for successful businesses.

The youth are mentored to experience their positions as potential job providers and improve their understanding of their groups’ business outcomes.

During the mentorship sessions we noticed that groups that had issues with working as teams are now able to focus more on their ventures and increase their outputs.

The  sessions have assisted the majority of the youth groups to clearly understand the needs of the market and consumer psychographics in the cereals, dairy and fisheries value chains.

‘We observed that most of the youth groups have further enhanced their entrepreneurial capacities, created market linkages and added value to their businesses which could contribute to increasing the volume of sales, income generation and improve rural livelihoods’-VIJABIZ FACILITATORS.

Additionally, many youth groups have been able to create new businesses and channels of operations, generally increased their production by over 50% in their respective value chains and created jobs for other youths to help them run their operations.

The mentorship programme has resulted in some specific initial outcomes spanning access to finance, enhanced business management and growth.

In kilifi county…

Lack of storage facility was identified as one of the key challenges faced by the Takaungu Boda Boda youth group based in Kilifi county and engaged in the fisheries value chain.

 The mentor thus linked them to MP Hon. Owen Baya and succeeded in accessing KSh 20,000 (USD 196) to acquire a freezer to advance their work.

Also, the Mayugu Women Group was initially struggling to settle on a specific venture. Through the mentorship programme, the group has been able to focus on a specific venture in the fisheries value chain, opened a fish shop at Kijiwe Tanga in Kilifi County and currently uses the outlet to sell and preserve fresh fish from Mayugu Beach port where they source their fish from.

The mentor also assisted the group to apply for the Uwezo fund loan. Similarly, Wazo Jema Group based in Bamba in Kilifi county was troubled by proper keeping of records.

After participating in mentorship sessions on financial management, the mentor introduced them to a mobile app known as ‘My Cashbook’ to aid them in keeping proper financial records.

The group now uses the app to adequately keep financial records, print out Excel worksheet summarised by the app and then file them accordingly. As a result, the group currently has very comprehensive financial records that help them to track business expenses and manage their finances.

The mentorship programme is a continuous process and we envisage to document more specific outcomes as we proceed, especially using the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) tool developed by the Vijabiz project and the mentors.

This mentorship M&E tool is a comprehensive and dynamic tool that captures detailed information on the mentorship process. The tool tracks changes in specific business performance indicators over time to allow for documentation of outcomes and impact of the mentorship on business growth and associated benefits for each youth group.

The tool tracks indicators such as dynamics of group membership; business challenges discovered and addressed; baseline and current number of clients and business partners, products and services (especially value addition), volume of sales, expenditures and revenues and eventually changes in income