NAIROBI : Barclays Bank has rolled out a one-year training programme for youth-owned agribusiness enterprises in six counties. The initiative – in Kajiado, Bomet, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Kiambu counties– is part of its wider strategy to establish a footing in the SME sector, an area it largely neglected in past years.

Chief executive Jeremy Awori said on August 13 that Sh30 billion has been set aside for the sector . The lender has partnered with TechnoServe, a Washington-headquartered firm focusing on growth of micro and small business by creating awareness on raising capital and accessing markets.

The Sh25-million project, launched last week in Kajiado, targets about 240 enterprises. The two institutions hope increase the turnover of the beneficiaries by 40 per cent.

“The partnership with TechnoServe will capitalise on up-scaling the productivity of smallholder farmers through various value chain interventions including capacity building, enhancing market access, organising farmers into co-operatives which can take advantage of the economies of scale and adhering to quality standards,” Barclays’ director of business banking Humphrey Muturi

He said limited access to financial solutions, training and advisory services has hindered optimal performance and growth for start-up agribusiness firms.

TechnoServe, its country director John Logan said, is promoting sustainable mobile solutions for agriculture.

“Over the past four decades, TechnoServe has built the capacity of hundreds of farmers’ associations and more than 500 small and medium-sized enterprises in Kenya,” Logan said.