Empowering Youth through Transformational Leadership

| Catholic Relief Services

WENDY FARMS proprietor, Caleb Keroga adressing Elgeyo Marakwet Youth Bunge at his Kiambu farm.

This success story is from Farmer-to-Farmer Implementer Catholic Relief Services (CRS). CRS East Africa Farmer-to-Farmer Program is currently implementing projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda and has fielded more than 400 F2F volunteers from all over America since 2014. Below is a story about Daniel Dunn, who volunteered in Kenya in both 2015 and 2017 helping the Elgeyo Marakwet County Youth Bunge Forum grow substantially in a few short years and bring economic empowerment and opportunities to its young members.

Elgeyo Marakwet County Youth Bunge Forum (EMYBF) is a Community Based Organization in Kenya established in 2011 following the post-election violence of 2007/2008. With funding from USAID, Mercy Corps started implementing the Yes Youth Can! Program with EMYBF, as a way of engaging Kenyan youth in community outreach and small business creation, empowering them socially, politically and economically, thereby transforming their lives. As a youth owned, led and managed project, the focus is an all-rounded youth; politically, socially and economically. The membership is open to all youth aged 18-35 years and is free from discrimination by gender, ethnic affiliation, race or religion.

Since its inception, the organization has mobilized and organized the youth into Bunges (parliaments) and Savings and Credit Cooperatives, SACCO. Initially, all operational expenses were met by the donor. MercyCorps, a F2F partner in Kenya, conducted the initial needs assessment which established that the youth were vulnerable to political manipulation due to their low social and economic status. Having facilitated in the formation of the youth Bunge, MercyCorps requested for F2F technical assistance for EMYBF.

Volunteer Daniel Dunn first came to Kenya in July 2015 to complete an assignment on organizational capacity strengthening through improved cooperative leadership and management for EMYBF. He made recommendations on increasing membership, speeding up loan process, doubling loan volumes and rewarding good borrowers with incentives. To cope with the large number of members, he also recommended recruitment of additional field staff and a manager. Following successful implementation of the volunteer recommendations, the same volunteer travelled back to Kenya in February 2017, where he trained EMYBF on communications and financial management systems; and reviewed the internal control and loan monitoring systems and ICT integration.

This youth SACCO has grown its membership from 536 members in 2015 to current 941; increased their loans portfolio by more than 100 percent to an impressive $150,000 annual turnover, and now pays fully for all the operational expenses. It has improved its networking with key stakeholders, installed new software that has contributed to increased loan repayment and now reviews and approves loans within one month, which has resulted in economically empowered youth.

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