Influence Of The Youth Enterprise Development Fund On Youth Empowerment In Imenti North District, Meru County, Kenya
Unemployment has been a major challenge for many governments of the World. The developing countries have been most affected by this socio-economic problem. This has affected the youth more profoundly and as a result, governments, public benefit organizations, and the civil society continue to struggle in developing policies that will help alleviate this problem. Developing countries have devised mechanisms to enable them address youth unemployment that include initiation of a Youth Fund to offer credit to the youth. In Kenya, the problem has been so acute that it may curtail the realization of the Vision 2030 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The youth bulge has also contributed to the rise of many youth who cannot be assimilated in the shrinking job market. The main purpose of this study was to establish the influence of the youth enterprise development fund (YEDF) on youth empowerment in Imenti North District, Meru County in Kenya. This objective was achieved through five objectives: it determined the influence of nature of projects on youth empowerment; it established the influence of accessibility to YEDF on youth empowerment; it also established the influence of training on youth empowerment; the study determined the influence of entrepreneurial skills on youth empowerment and finally it established the influence of monitoring and evaluation on youth empowerment. This study employed descriptive survey design which was preferred for its effectiveness in describing situations in situ. The design made the study efficient and effective in gathering maximum information. A sampling frame of 214 respondents was obtained from which a sample size of 132 was randomly selected. The researcher obtained a complete list of group leaders (Chairpersons and Secretaries) from the Credit Officer in Imenti North District and used simple random sampling to select the sample size. All these numbers were writen in small papers which were folded and put into a basket. The researcher then picked a piece of paper from the basket at random and after contacting the respondent this was returned into the basket to allow all the leaders equal opportunity to participate in the study. The sampling was done differently for both chairpersons and secretaries. Data collection was done by use of a questionnaire which contained both open – ended and close – ended questions. The questionnaire was preferred for its effectiveness in gathering data from a large sample over a short period of time and in a cost – effective way. After collective data, all items were coded and analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. The Statistical package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze all closed ended items while the open – ended items were analyzed through descriptive analysis. The study established that more males than females had benefited from YEDF at 58.5% and 41.5% respectively and that YEDF had funded 63.6% agricultural projects. The study also revealed that 54.2% of the respondents had been trained prior to receiving the loans while 45.8% got their loans without any form of training. The study showed that monitoring and evaluation had not been emphasized by MOYAS with 45.8% indicating that they had not been visited by MOYAS Officials. The study conclude that the Fund was not achieving the goal of creating employment for the youth and as such is not empowering them as it should. The study recommends that youth are trained before receiving loans, collateral be minimized and that the youth take initiative to design self-sustainable projects. Further research should be carried out to establish how the fund can be made more beneficial especially to females.