The majority of smallholders 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, is 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 benefits 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 focuses 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.
The Making Cents International’s KCDMS team, led by our field-based Social Inclusion Director, is leading 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 have also supported KCDMS in awarding social inclusion grants to targeted local market systems actors to support women and youth integration. Additionally, we are working to identify key financial institutions to build their capacity in developing financial products suitable for women and youth.
Most recently, our team has 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 will support 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.