The majority of smallholder farmers in Kenya subsist on low-input, low-output rain-fed agriculture on very small plots. Women and youth represent a large portion of the Kenyan workforce and are poised to drive agricultural innovation and transformation—however, they face unique challenges in accessing services, employment, and linking to profitable markets. Socio-economic norms and power asymmetries further limit women and youth’s ability to capitalize on opportunities in growing agricultural value chains.
The goal of the Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity (KCDMS), funded through USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, was to transform agricultural market systems in Kenya to enable intensification and diversification into higher-value commodities and non-farm activities. Launched in late 2017, the project benefitted farmers, entrepreneurs, and their households in 12 counties by leveraging markets, buyers, and larger farmers in other areas where such linkages benefit the target households. KCDMS focused on five components: developing a competitive, inclusive, and sustainable agricultural market system; diversifying production and improving productivity; creating a conducive policy environment for agriculture; integrating youth and women into agriculture market systems; and fostering collaborative action and learning for market systems change.
Making Cents International’s KCDMS team led the project component focusing on women and youth integration into the target value chains. In 2018, we developed a project-wide social inclusion strategy, led a gender and youth value chain assessment, and established the project’s social inclusion team. We also supported KCDMS in awarding social inclusion grants to targeted local market systems actors to support women and youth integration. Additionally, we identified key financial institutions to build their capacity in developing financial products suitable for women and youth.
Most recently, our team developed the Kenya Youth Agri-Preneurship Curriculum to build the foundational business and agribusiness skills of youth participants. In partnership with the Kenya Youth Employment & Skills (K-YES) activity, Making Cents supported the implementation of the curriculum by training Master Trainers, developing key facilitation skills, and fostering a youth-inclusive training system throughout KCDMS target regions in Kenya. 38 master trainers and over 600 youth have been trained in the Kenya Youth Agri-Preneurship curriculum to date.
By the project’s end, KCDMS resulted in 61 social inclusion partners, $16.9 million in sales made by women, $2.9 million in sales made by youth, $663,127 invested in women and youth’s economic empowerment, 131,024 women and 22,986 youth participating in agricultural market systems, and $5 million in loans advanced to 12,680 women for agribusiness investment through formal and informal financing.