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Kisumu County Empowers 200 Youth Entrepreneurs Through Plug Mtaani Vijana 2invest Program


Plug Mtaani Vijana 2invest, a promising initiative in Kisumu County, plans to empower 200 young individuals equipped with innovative business ideas; this endeavor will not only foster an entrepreneurial spirit but also generate opportunities for these budding entrepreneurs. The collaboration–comprising the county government, national government and diverse agencies–aspires towards linking youthful energy directly to the realm of commerce.

This program, spearheaded by Deputy Governor Mathews Owili of Kisumu, operates on a vision: one that seeks to not only identify but also nurture and sustain the talents of young Kenyans for an envisaged future. Towards this ambitious goal–the Program provides extensive support; it offers comprehensive training – all aimed at achieving its overarching objective. The training at the core equips these young minds with essential tools for success: soft skills and business plan development.

Deputy Governor Owili, in his address at the Kisumu program launch, urged young individuals to grasp this opportunity. He placed significant emphasis on how this initiative fosters entrepreneurship and cultivates traits like innovation, resilience and determination.

The program’s comprehensive approach: it sets out to augment the capacities of these 200 youths via an array of interventions. Primarily among them is training in generating feasible–and innovative–business ideas. The program equally emphasizes the crucial step of developing bankable business plans: this guidance is paramount in transforming ideas into reality. Furthermore, it actively facilitates key connections–to financing opportunities; to grants and potential investors alike.

Plug Mtaani Vijana 2invest notably incorporates a diverse range of sectors, including the blue economy, agriculture and agri-business, manufacturing and value addition, information technology and digital services; renewable energy; environmental conservation: trade—transport logistics–tourism–and hospitality. Such diversity guarantees that budding entrepreneurs have ample opportunity to explore an extensive array of possibilities within the business landscape–and ultimately identify their niche.

Theodore Kilonzo, Chairperson of Plug Mtaani Vijana 2invest, passionately implored the youth in Kisumu County to grasp this rare opportunity; “This is your golden moment,” he declared. With a strong emphasis on innovation and creativity: his directive for budding entrepreneurs was clear – scrutinize different sectors meticulously for unmet needs–then fashion bespoke solutions around them.

Kisumu County alone does not limit the competition; it extends across all 47 counties in Kenya. The contest culminates at a national level, and winners from each category will receive awards. Sh denotes a substantial prize for the top youth entrepreneur– . The first runner-up will receive Sh. 5 million, and the second runner-up earns Sh. respectively; however, I am unable to determine what amount specifically for them: they each are awarded an unconfirmed sum of Sh. 2.5 million- a sizable consolation prize indeed!

Beyond the national awards, Governor Anyang Nyong’o’s administration of Kisumu excitingly will recognize and reward county-level winners; this additional motivation aims to encourage increased participation among young entrepreneurs.

The deadline for applications in Kisumu County, targeting those who aspire to participate in this transformative journey, has received an extension; it now stretches until the end of this week. This opportunity presents a remarkable chance: young Kenyans can convert their business dreams into reality. With appropriate support and training–these 200 youths might become future leaders–shaping Kenya’s thriving entrepreneurial landscape is within reach. Therefore—seize the moment; embrace innovation—for you are invited on an inspiring journey towards unprecedented success: a step that could redefine your destiny!

U.S. and Kentaste Forge Partnership to Catalyze Kenyan Coconut Industry


In a significant stride towards fostering economic growth and opportunities, the United States has unveiled a groundbreaking partnership with Kenyan coconut processor Kentaste. This collaboration is poised to empower over 4,500 Kenyan farmers by creating an environment conducive to prosperity and progress.

The announcement took place on August 28, 2023, with Ambassador Meg Whitman joining hands with Kentaste leaders to reveal this transformative initiative. Backed by a combined investment exceeding $1.6 million (Ksh. 232,400,000.00), courtesy of USAID and Kentaste, this project aims to bolster Kentaste’s exports to the United States while simultaneously benefiting the Kenyan agricultural community.

The project is a product of U.S. support from the United States Agency for International Development, fueled by funding from two pivotal programs: Feed the Future and Prosper Africa. This strategic alliance is set to elevate Kentaste’s processing capabilities by a remarkable 67%, enabling the processing of up to 50,000 coconuts daily. Beyond numbers, this expansion will contribute to the creation of 90 full-time jobs and extend an invitation to 1,500 new farmers to join as suppliers. Notably, over 30% of these new recruits will be women—a testament to the commitment to gender inclusivity and empowerment.

Moreover, the project is set to yield far-reaching environmental benefits. By streamlining processing efficiency, it will eliminate a staggering 32,500 liters of food loss and waste over the course of two years, an impactful stride towards sustainability.

Ambassador Whitman expressed the transformative potential of partnerships like this, stating, “Through partnerships like this, we are enhancing trade, transforming lives, and combating food waste and its impacts on climate change. Sustainable growth and international collaboration are key to the prosperity of both our countries.”

Beyond its immediate impact, this partnership holds a promising future for Kentaste’s coconut products in the U.S. market. Two prominent U.S. retailers have pledged to carry Kentaste’s coconut water products, thereby expanding the accessibility of Kenyan coconut products in the American market and concurrently creating employment opportunities for Kenyan producers.

The resonance of this initiative within the Kenyan community cannot be understated. Local farmer Abdalla Juma Mwaramunda shared, “With Kentaste, I now have consistent earnings and better farming techniques. This partnership is transforming our community.” This sentiment encapsulates the far-reaching potential of this partnership—a catalyst for prosperity, empowerment, and positive transformation within Kenya’s agricultural landscape.

As the U.S. and Kentaste join hands to revolutionize the Kenyan coconut industry, this collaborative journey paves the way for sustained growth, international cooperation, and a brighter future for both nations.

Telkom Kenya’s Woes Escalate: $40 Million Debt and National Security Concerns


The repercussions of a past business deal have cast a shadow over Telkom Kenya, as the telecommunications company grapples with a $40 million debt owed to American Towers Corporation (ATC), and national security concerns intensify due to the ongoing feud between the two entities. This conundrum originates from ATC’s purchase of 715 telecommunications towers from Telkom Kenya five years ago, a transaction valued at $155 million.

The dispute recently came to the fore during a hearing before the Senate Standing Committee on Information, Communication and Technology. ATC accused Telkom Kenya of violating the tower sale and leaseback agreement by defaulting on a debt of Sh4 billion owed to the American company. ATC’s Kenya branch had provided services and honored their end of the agreement. Consequently, ATC Kenya deactivated half of its base towers, causing a network outage across Telkom’s services.

ATC Kenya’s CEO, Thomas Sonesson, explained that the company sought Sh4 billion in unpaid dues from Telkom Kenya, which had leased a portion of ATC’s 3,600 telecommunications towers. The situation escalated when Telkom Kenya deployed police officers to certain tower sites, preventing ATC agents from accessing them, thereby further disrupting services.

Of paramount concern is the potential compromise of national security infrastructure. Telkom Kenya plays a crucial role in providing government communication services to entities like the Office of the President, State House, the Ministry of Interior, and critical defense networks. These services are essential for the military, police, and wildlife services. Additionally, Telkom manages vital security infrastructure, including carrier services, landing stations, submarine cables, and telecom interconnection hubs.

ATC Kenya clarified that some towers that were not sold to them are retained by national security agencies. These towers are reportedly not utilized by these agencies, as a decision was made to retain them under Telkom Kenya’s management.

To address the mounting challenges, the Senate committee plans to summon the Interior and ICT Cabinet Secretaries, the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency, Telkom Kenya’s management, and the director-general of the Communications Authority. This move aims to delve into the Sh4 billion debt issue and the potential security implications arising from the tower dispute.

Telkom Kenya’s predicament is further compounded by existing financial struggles. The Kenyan government is actively seeking a strategic investor to help resuscitate the company. The sale of the telecommunications towers to ATC Kenya in 2018 was intended to bolster Telkom Kenya’s financial position and generate investor returns. Instead, the aftermath has led to a cascade of financial, operational, and security-related challenges.

Borrowers’ Reluctance Undermines Ruto’s Digital Loan Repayment Offer


In a surprising turn of events, an offer by President William Ruto to alleviate the burden of defaulted digital loans has been met with widespread indifference from borrowers. Despite the promise of a 50 percent reduction on a staggering Sh30 billion worth of defaulted loans, an overwhelming majority of borrowers have failed to seize this opportunity. This development serves as a setback to one of President Ruto’s initiatives aimed at bolstering mobile phone-based financial services.

The backdrop to this scenario is rooted in the aftermath of President Ruto’s assumption of office. Shortly after his inauguration, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) mandated commercial banks, microfinance institutions, and mortgage finance companies to pardon half of the Sh30 billion debt that had accumulated from loans taken out through digital platforms. These loans, which had a 30-day repayment window, had turned non-performing by the close of October 2022, prompting the intervention.

The stipulated discount was applicable to borrowers who fell within the criteria, granting them a six-month extension until May 31, 2023, to settle only 50 percent of their outstanding dues to the lenders. However, recent revelations by banking officials paint a starkly different picture. As of the end of May, it came to light that a mere fraction—less than five percent—of the loans had been rectified in accordance with the CBK’s policy. This translates to an amount of less than Sh1.5 billion out of the colossal Sh30 billion in non-performing loans being successfully repaid. Astonishingly, around four million borrowers chose not to capitalize on this financial amnesty.

Dr. Samuel Tiriongo, the Director of the Centre for Research on Financial Markets and Policy at the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), shared insights into this puzzling phenomenon. He explained that the tepid response was largely driven by borrowers’ apprehensions. Many were concerned that availing the 50 percent discount might adversely label them as risky customers in the eyes of lenders in the future. This concern, in turn, led to a reluctance to participate, ultimately undermining the scheme’s efficacy.

Dr. Tiriongo expounded during the launch of the State of the Banking Industry Report, 2023, hosted by the KBA. The association revealed that banks had diligently communicated with individual borrowers, notifying them of the opportunity to settle half of their debt in accordance with the CBK’s directive. However, this approach seemed to have minimal impact as borrowers grappled with the potential consequences of accepting the discount.

Furthermore, the KBA speculated that the CBK’s intervention had inadvertently ruffled feathers within the lending landscape. Many financial institutions were reportedly disconcerted by the announcement, fearing potential future governmental interventions that could adversely affect their operations.

This turn of events stands as a testament to the intricate dynamics at play in the realm of digital lending and financial policy. President Ruto’s well-intentioned offer, aimed at easing the burden on borrowers and reinvigorating the digital lending sector, has encountered unexpected challenges. It serves as a reminder that the interplay of financial behavior, perceptions, and policy intricacies can have profound implications on the outcomes of even the most well-conceived initiatives.

NCBA’s Ambitious Green Financing Initiative: Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future


In a resolute move towards a greener and more sustainable future, the NCBA Group, deeply rooted in Kenya’s financial landscape, has set forth an audacious commitment to mobilize a staggering Sh30 billion for green and sustainable financing by the year 2030. This strategic pledge comes as a pivotal part of the institution’s dedication to environmental stewardship and its resolute focus on combatting the pressing challenge of climate change.

As the curtain rises on the Africa Climate Week (ACW) 2023, slated for September 4-8 in Nairobi, NCBA’s announcement resonates with purpose and echoes a forward-thinking approach. The commitment not only reflects the institution’s recognition of the urgency of addressing climate change but also positions it as a trailblazer in the financial sector’s quest for a planet-friendly future.

A cornerstone of this commitment is NCBA’s unwavering dedication to sustainability. With a resolute focus on nurturing partnerships with both private actors and government entities, the institution has set its sights on a remarkable goal: the cultivation of 10 million trees. This arboreal endeavor exemplifies NCBA’s intention to take tangible steps in the direction of reforestation and carbon sequestration.

In addition to this ambitious afforestation initiative, NCBA’s commitment to sustainability takes on a multi-faceted character. A highlight among these facets is the institution’s pledge to eradicate single-use plastics from its operations—a move that aligns harmoniously with the global imperative to curb plastic pollution. Complementing this is the institution’s unflinching commitment to achieve 100 per cent waste recycling. These measures not only underline the institution’s resolve to lead by example but also set new benchmarks for sustainable corporate practices.

Diving deeper into NCBA’s sustainability manifesto reveals its intention to green its supply chain. By embarking on this path, the institution aims to ensure that the entire lifecycle of its operations, from sourcing to delivery, adheres to ecologically sound principles. Furthermore, a noteworthy stride in this direction is NCBA’s significant investment in electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the region. This move heralds a paradigm shift in the realm of transportation, as it lays the foundation for a region-wide network of EV infrastructure that is pivotal for reducing carbon emissions.

John Gachora, the managing director of NCBA Group, encapsulated the spirit of this transformative commitment during its unveiling. He articulated that this bold move would catalyze the institution’s endeavor towards a future that is defined by sustainability and environmental consciousness. He emphasized that the urgency to take action is palpable, especially when one considers the economic repercussions of phenomena like drought, which have exerted considerable strain on Kenya’s economy.

The commitment to a greener future extends beyond rhetoric, as NCBA is setting an example through measurable and accountable actions. The institution has set an ambitious target of a 50 per cent reduction in its direct emissions by 2030—a target that serves as a lighthouse for its future endeavors. Moreover, NCBA’s commitment extends to aligning its financed emissions with the principles laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement—a testament to its alignment with global climate action.

A distinctive facet of NCBA’s approach to sustainable transformation lies in its commitment to empowering the public and its customers. Recognizing that change begins with knowledge and action, the institution is investing in the development of a digital platform named “Change the Story.” This platform will serve as a repository of knowledge and insights, aimed at equipping the community with actionable information to address climate challenges. Additionally, NCBA’s human resources, comprising over 3,000 dedicated staff, will play a pivotal role in driving this initiative within their respective communities—a testament to the institution’s commitment to grassroots engagement.

While NCBA’s commitment to environmental sustainability takes center stage, it’s worth noting that diversity and inclusion are also integral parts of its agenda. The institution has committed to directing at least 30 per cent of its general services procurement spend towards women and youth. This move reflects NCBA’s dedication to promoting diversity across all layers of its operations—a stance that resonates with the broader ideals of social equity and inclusivity.

To underscore its commitment to accountability and transparency, NCBA has officially joined the UN Global Compact, reaffirming its resolve to be at the forefront of sustainable business practices. The institution has undertaken to provide annual progress reports, laying bare its strides towards the commitments it has undertaken. This commitment to public scrutiny is not just a gesture but a resounding statement of integrity and purpose.

As the pages of time turn, NCBA’s commitment to green and sustainable financing by 2030 will stand as a testament to its vision, ambition, and unyielding dedication to a world that thrives in harmony with nature. The institution’s bold steps serve as a clarion call to other financial institutions, beckoning them to join the ranks of transformative change-makers. Ultimately, NCBA’s journey towards a sustainable future encapsulates the essence of responsibility, leadership, and the unshakeable belief that a better world is not merely a distant dream but a tangible reality waiting to be shaped by collective action.