Hunger drive breeds new crop of entrepreneurs

State Department of Social Protection PS Susan Mochache and Special Programs PS Josepheta Mukube  Photo Moses Omusula

A State-sponsored welfare programme for poor households in Northern Kenya has been credited with a rise in new businesses in the region, according to a new report.

An impact evaluation research on the programme dubbed ‘The Hunger Safety Net Programme’ in which selected households in four counties are given Sh5,400 every two months has shown increased entrepreneurial activities.

The four counties – Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera – traditionally known for livestock farming in the largely arid part of the country, the report found, were now beginning to warm up to diversified trading activities.

According to findings presented by Oxford Policy Management’s Senior Consultant Fred Merttens in Nairobi yesterday, once recipients meet basic needs, they join informal groups to generate more money. According to Social Protection Principal Secretary Susan Mochache, many families that receive the money go beyond just spending it on food and health as they strive to cushion themselves from shocks such as drought.

“Purchasing power has increased trade and profit to businesses. This has led to increased investments in small businesses and other entrepreneurial start-ups,” said Ms Mochache during the report’s launch.

The PS said the programme had far covered about 101,800 vulnerable households in the four counties or about 620,000 people. This means the programme, which is being implemented by Government with support from the UK Department for International Programme, spends at least Sh274.9 million every month or Sh3.3 million per year on the selected households.

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But under the current phase, the programme has been innovated to factor in the ravaging drought in the region and, therefore, make a one-off payment of Sh810 million to 200,000 additional households.

The Principal Secretary for State Department of Special Programmes Josephta Mukobe said the cash transfers should be encouraged beyond the four counties because of the direct and indirect impact it had created.

 

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