Green entrepreneurs showcase their businesses at a regional knowledge sharing workshop in Kenya

The ILO Youth Entrepreneurship Facility (YEF) programme, which aims to create job opportunities for young people in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, organized a three-day regional knowledge sharing workshop for key project partners, stakeholders and beneficiaries on 9-11 September 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.

News | 27 September 2013
The event provided an opportunity to: i) showcase the main results so far achieved; ii) facilitate policy dialogue on youth entrepreneurship based on some of the key results and initiatives that can be up-scaled and; iii) identify and share lessons learned, good practices, experiences, strategies and initiatives which have been successful in one country and can be replicated in others.

Over the 3-day workshop, a particular session was dedicated to green entrepreneurship. A panel of young green entrepreneurs exposed some of the many opportunities available in developing green businesses as well as the challenges faced.
  • Ms. Lorna Rutto is co- founder of Eco-Post Recycling Company in Kenya, which recycles plastic waste from dump sites and converts it into durable weather resistant decking boards and fencing posts. To date, 40 direct and over 500 indirect jobs have been created in to manufacture “plastic lumber” in eastern Nairobi.
  • Mr. Caleb Wakhungu is a green business entrepreneur in the manufacturing of solar panels in Uganda, using locally available material to produce nearly 80 percent of the solar panels used by communities in rural areas. 
  • Ms. Merabu Manige runs a business in Uganda which produces nutritional porridge and soup using locally grown mushrooms as a primary product, thereby adding value and making mushrooms attractive to local consumption. 
It emerged from group working sessions that in general, key challenges faced by young green entrepreneurs relate to access to finance for start-up and business expansion; consumers’ lack of awareness and familiarity with new products and services; weak marketing strategies; and often limited policy support. A range of possible solutions were discussed including ways to use green public procurement in favour of young entrepreneurs; dedicated youth funding vehicles; and exhibitions and business fairs to promote green businesses and their products and services.

Reflecting the growing interest in green businesses, lead speakers at the opening sessions of the workshop emphasised the importance of environmental sustainability. The Central Organisation of Trade Unions of Kenya (KOTU-K) stressed the need to address urgent challenges of climate change; the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services brought attention on opportunities to create good green jobs, while the Ambassador of Denmark in Kenya noted that green growth will be a priority for Danish development cooperation in developing countries such as Kenya.

The YEF programme has over the years been promoting green entrepreneurship. In 2010, YEF formed a partnership with the ILO’s Green Jobs Programme in response to the identification of green jobs and green entrepreneurship as one of the key priorities during the initial national and local stakeholder consultations.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Facility (YEF) is a partnership between the Africa Commission, the Youth Employment Network (YEN) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Implemented from 2010-2014 in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, the partnership is funded by the Government of Denmark. The initiative is built on an approach to enterprise development based on: i) promoting a culture of entrepreneurship; ii) entrepreneurship education; iii) evidence-based advocacy; iv) Youth-to-Youth fund; v) access to business development services and finance. To date, YEF has reached more than 24,000 young women and men, with more than 19,000 young people trained in business and exposed to the idea of green entrepreneurship