Four years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a partnership that would see Kenyan students trained in Israel and on completion of their course, placed on employment in agricultural institutions locally.
The purpose of the training was to equip the young learners with knowledge that they would apply, especially to Galana-Kulalu irrigation, after the Israeli contractor left at the end of their tender in order to make the project sustainable.
However, with four cohorts so far having undergone the training in Israel, they are yet to be employed. It is because of this, that the Israeli Embassy in Nairobi has come up with a plan that will see these graduates linked to financial institutions to enable them access capital to start enterprises.
The embassy says the programme will help the students to start agri-businesses project by applying the knowledge that they acquired in Israel.
The funding will see the trainees get up to Sh1 million as capital to start their agri-business projects.
The initial plan when the training started in 2016 was to have the students employed at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme to enable them earn income that would support them to start their own enterprises in future. Israel envoy to Kenya, Oded Joseph said the plan did not work, hence the reason why they want to link the youths to financial institutions to enable them get affordable loans to start agri-business projects.
“We are going to provide a platform for the alumni to get funding to enable them start agri-business projects and make the training that they received from Israel meaningful,” said Mr Joseph.
the students, he noted, would also be linked to Israel tech firms that will help them apply the latest technology in farming to improve production. The alumni will be required to pitch their business proposal next month and the three banks involved in this programme will decide on funding, which will be based on the pitches that are promising.
Mr Joseph said the top three pitches will receive a grant of Sh1 million each on top of the loan that they will get from the financial institutions.
He said trainees make savings from the stipend that they receive in Israel and that that one too can help them to start agribusinesses.
“After 11 months, these students come back with savings that they can use to start agribusiness projects that can become successful. They would save between $7,000 to $10,000,” he said.
The embassy doubled the number of students undertaking the training to Israel from 50 to 100 this year as it seeks to strengthen its relationship with Kenya.
The ambassador did not reveal the banks that they are working with in this project but said they will be made public when they unveil the programme next month.
Mr Kenyatta and Netanyahu signed a six-year Jerusalem Declaration in 2016 to have local students trained in Israel on advanced agriculture to acquire the knowledge that would among other things enable them to manage Galana scheme once the Israel contractor is gone.
Israel has been credited as one of the best countries when it comes to the use of agriculture technology, having successfully transformed their country, which is a desert, into a leading food exporter worldwide.
The new development in linking the trainees to financial institutions come at a time there have been concerns over lack of job placement when these students return, putting the knowledge that they acquire to waste.