Teaching man how to fish

The Bondo heat can be vicious. Temperatures flatter with the thirty-degree Celsius mark testing the resolve of visitors. But just when you are about to give up and surrender, a slight breeze rushes over the terrain but as you start feeling at home it vanishes, leaving  your body yearning for another encounter.

But on this day, not even the high temperatures can dampen the spirits   of David Owino, a proud fisherman who calls Bondo home. From where he sits, things couldn’t be going any better. This time last year, he was a struggling fisherman who depended on the goodwill of boat owners in his village for him to at least go back home with enough to feed his family.

“Things were tough back then,” he says. “I didn’t even know that one day I would become the man I am today.”

Owino is one of the 272 youths from Western Kenya region that have been trained on enterprise development, which sets them up for opportunities under the Kenya Commercial Bank’s (KCB) Foundation flagship program called 2Jiajiri.

Last year, the KCB Foundation trained 464 beneficiaries from the same region with a focus on Fish Farming to capitalize on the opportunities within the ‘Blue Economy’ in this region. Technical training courses in this discipline were provided by partner technical and vocational training institutions in Siaya, Kisumu and Busia Counties.

For Owino, the training has made him grow a hobby into a business that he can sustain and hopefully hand it down to his children giving them the head start he did not have in life.

“I started out life as a fisherman with nothing, but now I have my own boat,” Owino said.

On the day he was speaking in mid-July, he was part of a group of 34 beneficiaries who have benefitted from 5.2 million worth of seed capital from the KCB Foundation in Siaya, Homa Bay and Busia counties.

The funding comes a fortnight after the foundation issued another cheques worth Ksh10 Million to close to 500 youths in Bungoma who are into Soya beans and sunflower farming. Statistics show that with an annual demand for fish standing at over 400,000 tonnes, Kenya is currently able to meet only 50 per cent of this demand.

For Owino, access to credit made him move a level up in life.

“I got a loan from KCB which enabled me buy a boat, a net and a night light,” he said. “Now I am a boat owner and I have my own crew.”

But he is just not looking out for himself.

“From being employed I am now an employer with four people under my wings,” he said adding that he pays them between Sh400 and Sh1000 depending on the work available. But most importantly, his new financial freedom has made him dream.

“In two years’ time, I hope to get a motorboat engine so that I can expand my business further.”

Dreams are not the preserve of Owino only.

Winnie Auko, a single parent to 17-year old in the lakeside city of Kisumu has dreamt of owning her own hair salon for years. She never thought it would be a reality until recently when she eavesdropped on a client’s conversation.

“I heard some of my clients talk about KCB’s 2Jiajiri programme and I got curious,” she said. “After pestering them for a while they told me about what the programme was all about and the sort of skills I would get from it,” she said.

For her, the biggest advantage 2jiajiri has given her is the day to day knowledge of running a business in a proper way.

“I learnt about book keeping and entrepreneurship and I was connected to a group of professionals like lawyers who have helped me manage my business,” she says. “After that they gave me a loan and I started my own salon in Kisumu.”

2jiajiri inspires youth to seize enterprise and employment opportunities in the ‘Blue Economy’ along Kenya’s Lake Region.  A critical part of this is the entrepreneurship support component where the beneficiaries continue to receive consultancy and advisory support for their fledgling enterprises.

These support teams are constituted from fresh graduates drawn from leading local universities to offer legal, marketing and financial management services to the enterprises established by those in the 2Jiajiri programme, all of which is aimed at preparing them to qualify for financial services such as business loans offered by mainstream financial institutions. The programme was launched in March 2016 with an intention to empower 10,000 youth engaged in the informal sector every year.

“There are significant opportunities for enterprise in the fishing industry, particularly in this part of Kenya we are confident that with the right kind of support, young people will play a leading role in revitalizing the fishing sector and thereby catalyse job creation,” said Rachel Gathoni, KCB Foundation’s head of programs.

The programme encourages and supports the growth and development of these youth micro-enterprises to the level that they will each employ at least 5 young people. This translates to over 250,000 jobs created directly by the youth for the youth through this initiative within 5 years.

“From being employed I am now an employee of 3 people. As an employee, I used to earn about Sh20,000 in a good month. I am no longer struggling. I am not called to school every time because of school fees arrears,” she said.

Winnie hasn’t reached the apex of her dreams yet.

“I believe that in a few years my salon will be the preferred destination for anyone with dreadlocks in Western Kenya and people will be coming from all over to get their manicures and pedicures too,” she said.

So far, 2jiajiri has graduated over 5,000 students in TVET technical training, with another 1,000 young businessmen and women establishing and growing their enterprises.

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