BACKGROUND ON UWEZO FUND
Kenya’s Vision 2030 aims to create a socially just and equitable society without extreme poverty and hence puts Social Equity and Poverty Reduction as one of the main development agendas. This is as a result of the existing unequal and inequitable society on many fronts.Inequity in entitlement to political, civil and human rights, and large disparities in income and access to education, health and land, as well as basic needs (clean water, adequate housing and sanitation) has been experienced since independence.
To address the inequalities, the Government has been implementing various initiatives that include raising average annual incomes, avoiding gross disparities while rewarding talent and investment risks, reducing poverty from 46%, implementing policies that minimize the differences in income opportunities and access to social services and increasing community empowerment through devolved public funds weighted in favour of the most disadvantaged communities.
The vision for gender, youth and persons with disabilityin Vision 2030 is; gender equity in power and resource distribution, improved livelihoods for all vulnerable groups and responsible, globally competitive and prosperous youth. The Vision 2030 has identified specific flagship projects and initiatives to address this.
- gender and regional parity in access to education, health and social services,
- poverty reduction and reduced income disparities and
- community empowerment through increased efficiency and impact of devolved funds.
The Government has introduced various devolved funds to facilitate in the achievement of the initiatives. These funds include Youth Enterprises Development Fund, Women Enterprises Development Fund, Constituency Development Fund and the most recent Uwezo Fund among others.
The Uwezo Fund is a flagship programme for vision 2030 aimed at enabling women, youth and persons with disabilityaccess finances to promote businesses and enterprises at the constituency level, thereby enhancing economic growth towards the realization of the same and the Millennium Development Goals No.1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) and 3 (promote gender equality and empower women).The Fund was launched by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya on 8thSeptember 2013 and enacted through a Legal Notice No. 21 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2014, and published on 21st February, 2014.
The Fund seeks to expand access to finances and promote women, youth and persons living with disability led enterprises at the constituency level. It also provides mentorship opportunities to enable the beneficiaries take advantage of the 30% government procurement preference through its Capacity Building Programme.Uwezo Fund, therefore, is an avenue for incubating enterprises, catalyzing innovation, promoting industry, creating employment, and growing the economy.
At the national level, the fund is managed by an oversight board while at the constituency level; there is a Constituency Uwezo Fund Committees (CUFCs) with membership from various wards and government representatives. It is therefore, important to work together for the realization of the aspirations of Uwezo Fund to ensure that the slogan “Ahadi Yetu – Kazi Kwako” is achieved for the prosperity of our nation.
Objectives of the Fund
The objective for which the Fund was established are: -
- to expand access to finances in promotion of youth and women businesses and enterprises at the constituency level for economic growth towards the realization of the goals of Vision 2030;
- to generate gainful self- employment for the youth and women; and
- to model an alternative framework in funding community driven development.
The guiding principles of Uwezo Fund are:
- Representation: to ensure the inclusion of all eligible Kenyans including women, youth and persons with disabilities. Elected parliamentary representatives and respective government officials must be involved in the fund management and administration to ensure transparency and equity.
- Accountability: to ensure government is held responsible to the citizenry for its decisions and actions.
- Accessibility: guaranteeing accessibility at the lowest level of engagement and for the largest category of recipients using a simple, structured and least cost approach.
- Economy: use of the best but least cost mechanism to achieve the desired objectives.