Connecting Youth Through Social and Economic Opportunities
Despite billions in resources invested in Kenyan youth empowerment initiatives, youth still face significant rates of unemployment, limited social and economic opportunities, and major challenges surrounding their livelihoods and well-being. This is due to micro and macro-level challenges that render youth empowerment initiatives ineffective.
Appreciating these challenges and acknowledging the strategic role played by youth in development informed the need for interventions targeted at connecting youth through social and economic opportunities. Therefore, the USAID Empowered Youth Program targets youth between ages 18 -24 and adolescent girls (aged 15-19) in the 5-year Program as the primary focus of empowerment initiatives aimed at connecting them with social and economic opportunities.
The USAID Empowered Youth Program is a USD ($)15 million USAID-funded Program that is executed in more than 20 Counties in Kenya with a focus on the youth in 6 high-touch Counties (Isiolo, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Mombasa).
Egerton University - through CoELIB in collaboration with Michigan State University (MSU) (the Lead Partner), United States International University-Africa (USIU), and National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA-CLUSA) presents sustainable approaches of youth empowerment to achieve the Program’s goal of connecting youth through social and economic opportunities.
The team brings on board expertise in youth engagement, gender equality, research, community-led development, entrepreneurship, education, innovative technologies, and workforce development needed for program execution.
The Program has three focal areas where it purposes to translate into meaningful interventions to youth. These focal areas are:
- Increasing youth economic prospects,
- Building the capacity of Kenyan Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), &
- Strengthening youth-serving systems.
Egerton University has longstanding success in establishing interventions that increase youth economic prospects and build the capacity of HEIs (result areas 1 and 2 respectively). In collaboration with USIU and NCBA-CLUSA, Egerton University is mandated to strengthen and increase youth economic prospects by connecting them to relevant, stakeholder-driven, integrated skills training and job placement programs linked to industry needs in high-growth sectors. It also seeks to offer youth entrepreneurial and business start-up assistance and increased access to financial services.
Through the successful training model employed at the African Dairy Academy, CoELIB will offer apprenticeships to farmers within the dairy value-chains. The Centre will also train and mentor youth through CoELIB Incubar and CoELIB Media units on sustainable business models and best practices. To help youth in the sports and in the creative industries tap into their potential, CoELIB will also implement a Talent and Sports Program that will train them on how to create revenue streams.
Egerton University will strengthen the capacity of Kenyan HEIs to link training to youth economic opportunities; develop meaningful collaborative partnerships among key actors in youth development; effectively communicate across institutions; and take collective action to innovate, demonstrate, test, and scale new or improved ideas and/or practices that address the needs of youth. CoELIB will also develop the workforce of these institutions to ensure the sustainability of these interventions.
To strengthen youth-serving systems, USAID Empowered Youth will ensure increased investments in youth programs in select counties; increased partnerships with youth organizations, the private sector, and HEIs that train and support youth; and it will regularly involve the youth in key county-level decisions.
For the success and long-term sustainability, the 5-year Program uses a mix of strategic and technical approaches that include a strong collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) cycle and a Quadruple Helix Innovation Platform (QHIP) to strengthen collaborations among HEIs, the private sector, county governments, and youth networks.
As a result, youth will be mobilized and engaged, the private sector will be engaged, there will be evidenced scaling up in low-touch counties, Information, Communication, and Technology ICT penetration will increase, and long-term sustainability - through inspiring a culture of learning, continuous improvement, and local ownership - shall be attained.