On February 2, IPA Kenya and The Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat organized a policy forum that brought together researchers, policymakers, and implementing partners to discuss what works in improving youth employment and entrepreneurship. The event highlighted recent research in Kenya aimed at improving youth and women’s employment through training programs, startup capital, and cash grants. In particular, the event focused on the findings of the Girls Empowered by Microfranchise (GEM) evaluation, which provided training to young women in Nairobi slums and helped them launch franchise businesses.
The forum brought together researchers, policy makers, and implementing partners to discuss what works in improving youth employment outcomes in Kenya and highlighted recent research on projects in Kenya aimed at improving youth and women’s employment through training programs, startup capital, and cash grants. The forum attempted to answer the following questions:
- How effective are training programs and cash transfers in addressing youth unemployment?
- What support do entrepreneurs need to initiate and sustain businesses?
- What particular constraints do young women face in finding jobs and starting businesses?
- How can research better inform policy decisions relating to youth and women’s unemployment?
The GEM program, implemented by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Nairobi in 2012-2013, provided business, life skills, and franchise-specific training to young women in Nairobi slums, linked them with existing franchises—Kenchic or Darling—and provided start-up capital and branding to help them launch mobile food cart or beauty salon businesses. The research evaluates the impact of this intervention on a range of outcomes and also tests the relative impact of the program against unconditional cash grants of comparable value. The forum also highlighted the work of several other IPA projects, including Startup Capital for Youth and Women’s Entrepreneurship Development, and of the Kenya Youth Empowerment Project, implemented by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance with support from The World Bank.
Dissemination of research results and information sharing are critical to the success of Kenyan employment and labor policies. This event represented an opportunity for key stakeholders to consider the relevance of such research findings to the design of future national and county strategies and to shape the future research agenda.