Youth and women-owned enterprises in Isiolo County will access cheap loans and advisory support to grow their businesses under a kitty from the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC).
The funding under the AgriBiz programme will see some 400 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the northern frontier county get the loans in the five years to 2026.
Some 100 SMEs will be targeted every year in the county.
The SMEs will also receive free training and support to access markets for their products under the Sh5.1 billion project that will be extended to enterprises in the other 46 counties.
Terms of the loans were not disclosed.
The roll-out of the kitty is expected to boost SMEs struggling to access credit from banks due to the Covid-19 economic fall-out that has watered down their credit worthiness following business closures and depressed revenues.
KCIC chief executive officer Edward Mungai said the programme will boost SMEs in the county at a time adverse weather conditions are pushing residents to drop their traditional mainstay of nomadic pastoralism in favour of crop growing and other businesses.
“We have seen the harsh economic times and the attempts to fight food insecurity making nomadic communities in Isiolo and the surrounding counties shift from herding to crop production and other agricultural practices,” Mr Mungai said.
“We are enthusiastic that this partnership will strengthen and advance such diversity and continue to promote excellence in agribusiness while at the same time maintaining the interests and activities of the societies.”
KCIC reckons that AgriBiz programme will support over 2,400 women and youth-led enterprises across the country and is projected to create at least 17,000 jobs in the five years.
AgriBiz is funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
The small business owners will also get training through an incubation programme that will be set up in Isiolo to build their skills capacity.