Ajira Youth Innovation Fund Challenge

Empowering Youth translate IDEAS into JOBS

Background and Rationale

Unemployment in Kenya stands at 40% and 70% of those unemployed are youth between ages of 15 to 35. The World Bank estimates that approximately 800,000 Kenyans join the labor market each year with only 50,000 succeeding to get professional jobs. Forbes Africa recently released a list of Africa’s 30 best entrepreneurs below 30 years. Notably, 7 out of the 30 entrepreneurs were Kenyan. This demonstrates the need to harness this untapped energy; talent and creativity abound in Kenyan youth.   

A second key pointer relates to education, a majority of youth are still stuck at low levels of educational achievement. Specifically, 62 percent of youth aged 15-34 years have below secondary level education, 34 percent have secondary education, an only a mere 1 percent have university education. Educational attainment appears to have a strong influence on an individual’s labor market activity. Compared to employed individuals, the openly unemployed and inactive youth have a higher proportion of individuals who “never went to school.” In addition, about 90 percent of all employed individuals whose highest level of education is primary school are engaged in vulnerable jobs compared to 61 percent and 21 percent for those with at least secondary and university qualifications, respectively. Other census-related data indicates that about 40 percent of Kenya’s youth either “never attended school” or “did not complete primary education.”

In addition, the COVID 19 Pandemic has eroded gains made in promoting youth empowerment initiatives and as such, more than two million (2,000,000/-) young people have lost jobs as a result of the Novel Coronavirus in Kenya.

About the Fund

The AJIRA YOUTH INNOVATION FUND CHALLENGE is a new initiative of the United Nations Youth Association of Kenya that seeks to empower young people translate ideas into jobs. Established in August 2018 as one of the strategies to address youth unemployment in Kenya, the fund is expected to complement other Youth Fund Kitties within the government as well as the private sector; thus create the much needed employment opportunities for marginalized young people through enterprise development. This will be achieved through providing capital seed funding support and business development incubation to the top most innovative ideas. The Fund will facilitate young people to become employers while demonstrating innovativeness of ideologies in enterprise development at the backdrop of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  
A total of Kenya shillings five hundred million (500,000,000/-) will be disbursed through a model that will be broken down into three phases spread within a 5 year period beginning 2020

Click on the video below to watch a sample project on innovation and the Sustainable Development Goals in Kenya.