Formalizing the Informal Sector: Skilling for Self-Employment
By U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec at the Tujiajiri Launch
March 9, 2016
KCB Group Chairman Ngeny Biwott, KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara, Governors and Kenya Government officials present, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Hamjambo! Haribari zenu!
It’s great to be here today for the launch of this ambitious vocational scholarship program for Kenya’s young people. I would like to thank all of the partners who helped make this initiative possible, and especially the KCB Foundation, the Government of Kenya, and the many other civil society and private sector groups who are involved.
Last July, when President Obama made his historic visit to Kenya, he stood right here at Kasarani sports complex and said, “When it comes to the people of Kenya — particularly the youth — I believe there is no limit to what you can achieve.”
And President Obama was – as usual – right: the young people of Kenya have an almost boundless opportunity to succeed and to define the path this country will take. To all of the young people here and across Kenya: it is your energy, your ingenuity, and your commitment that will build a bright future for your nation.
Over the past three years, I have had the opportunity to visit cities, towns, villages, and rural areas across this great country. And, everywhere – in Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi, Kisumu, Eldoret, Turkana, so many places – I met with young Kenyans who shared their hopes and dreams. And, in each of them, just as in the four young people who just spoke, I saw that energy, commitment and ingenuity that will build this country. But, we all know as well, you must be given the opportunity to do. You need education, skills, and training if you are turn hope and possibility into success.
And, the government of the United States – and I know the government of Kenya as well – understands that. Last July, during President Obama’s visit, the United States and Kenya co-hosted in Nairobi the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, held for the first time in a Sub-Saharan Africa country. President Obama joined President Kenyatta at the Summit, along with KCB Group and many other companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders. They pledged major new support for the youth in Kenya and across Africa. Commitments came from African banks, foundations, philanthropists, and companies all to empower the young people – the future entrepreneurs and leaders – of this continent.
Today’s launch marks the KCB Group’s fulfillment of the commitment it made at the summit. KCB promised KSH 1 billion in initiatives aimed at building the skills of Kenya’s emerging workforce. On behalf of the United States, I want to thank you Ngeny, Joshua, and your entire KCB team for honoring your promise at that summit, honoring your promise to Kenya’s young people. But even more, thank you for going further. Thank you for your new, extraordinary commitment of KSH 50 billion over five years. And, I am pleased to announce that the United States – through our USAID Nilinde program in Kenya – is joining with the KCB Foundation on the new program.
The United States has long been a strong partner of Kenya on education. Our programs aim to help the youth of Kenya realize their limitless potential. These programs include the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, which seeks to nurture the next generation of African leaders in business, civil society, and government. We support the DREAMS Partnership, which is helping girls and young women. And the Wings to Fly program, which gives the brightest students scholarships for secondary school.
The program we launch today is another investment in the education and training of Kenya’s young. It will connect the young people here today, and those that will participate in the future, to top vocational schools in Kenya. Through the training they receive, they will gain the knowledge, skills, and access to resources necessary to succeed in the workplace. This program will give them the opportunity to harness their full potential and, in so doing, to build a better future for themselves, for their families, for their communities, and for their nation.
In conclusion, once again, I would like to congratulate KCB, the government of Kenya, and all the partners. This program is an impressive achievement and will be critical in promoting education and entrepreneurship. Finally, and most importantly, I would like to congratulate the young people here today. We are investing in you because you are the future leaders and entrepreneurs of this country. You are the key to a vibrant economy and a prosperous society. You are the future of Kenya, of Africa, of the world. We believe in you. We know the possibility you possess. I ask only this of you: make the most of this opportunity. Seize this moment. Make the future yours.
Pamoja tusonge mbele!