Written by Clariece Ngumi, Arabuko
Unemployment remains among the most formidable challenges young people face across Kenya and the wider continent. While we are seeing a surge of graduates entering the job market, the supply simply isn’t meeting the demand for opportunities. This imbalance can lead to desperation and hopelessness, which, in some cases, has led to mental health issues, substance abuse, and even criminality.
In a world where challenges often overshadow opportunities, Arabuko stands as a beacon of hope and transformation. Founded in 2016 and incorporated in 2018, Arabuko started working with a group of farmers from Nyeri, Machakos, and Kajiado counties in Kenya. Initially, our focus was producing a small selection of crops committed to providing healthy, sustainably farmed produce. In the years since we’ve been on quite a remarkable transition; the company has gone from mere producers to becoming aggregators, working in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to promote young farmers, supply fresh produce and promote healthy living across East Africa.
At Arabuko, we recognized that we were approaching a crisis without action. We quickly realized that this issue required us to do more than take a proactive stance or raise awareness and that we needed to develop practical solutions to address it. This means empowering young people to forge their own paths by giving them the tools and means – from training in sustainable farming techniques to market access – to make their own choices. And there is no doubt our approach is paying dividends.
Through our innovative strategies, we have created dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for many young people across Kenya. Currently, we are employing twenty-four individuals, 70% of whom are young women, and we are actively mentoring and guiding young individuals towards self-employment with the skills they’ve acquired in agribusiness and innovation.
Partnerships: Catalysts for Change
Through our collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation, we have supercharged this impact. Through this partnership, we’ve already reached over 600 young people across five counties, with a remarkable 70% being young women.
From the outset, it was clear that in the Mastercard Foundation, we had a partner who shared our commitment to youth empowerment and was willing to invest in long-term solutions. The partnership’s focus has been on helping these individuals to become refined agripreneurs and facilitating market linkages. This has involved various training and capacity-building exercises – working closely with the beneficiaries to enhance their knowledge in entrepreneurship, food safety, export markets, and value addition. This ultimately ensures that they are better equipped to build their enterprises and generate sustainable incomes.
The partnership has helped shatter myths surrounding agriculture’s profitability, showing that value addition and innovation can lead to substantial gains. The young participants are encouraged to think creatively, leveraging their inherent courage and innovative spirits to drive change in their communities.
A Vision for the Future
Arabuko aspires to expand its footprint even further. Over the next year, Arabuko aims to venture into value addition, creating industries that provide employment for over 100 young people. This journey is closely tied to our partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. Together, we aim to equip over ten thousand young people with skills in value addition, entrepreneurship, and export markets – fostering industries that contribute to economic growth and youth empowerment.
As we draw inspiration from our remarkable journey, we’re reminded that even in the face of challenges, change is possible. Through determination, innovation, and strategic partnerships, we are setting a precedent for youth empowerment and transforming agriculture in Kenya. Our story is a testament to the power of vision, collaboration, and the limitless potential of young change-makers.
A Call to Young Change-Makers
For young individuals aspiring to be change-makers and leaders in their communities, Arabuko’s story offers valuable lessons:
To stay up to date with the Mastercard Foundation, sign up for our monthly newsletter. Get youth voices, impact stories and news and announcements all direct to your inbox.