Sustainably Employing Youth In The Fisheries Sector.

Kilifi Mwelekeo Fisheries Group and Jiinue VI Smart (JIVIS).

These two youth groups are based in Kenya’s coastal Kilifi county. The groups and their members are located in Kibarani ward and Sokoni ward respectively, in Kilifi county. The groups have been in operation since August 2018 with a total combined membership of 35 youths (11 men and 24 women).They decided to venture into the fisheries business with the support of the Vijabiz project. They buy and sell fish, which they add value to by processing. While JIVIS only deals with fish and fish products, Kilifi Mwelekeo handles all types of seafood. Taking part in the Vijabiz project gave them exposure to financial institutions and improved their skills in online marketing. They plan to use this as a starting point to grow even more…

THE unemployment rate among young people in Kilifi county has been on the rise in the past decades. The area has very few industries that can employ youth, leaving most of them to spend their days on the streets and for some, this leads them into drug abuse.

Furthermore, literacy levels are low, with a high number of school drop-outs. But to counter this, two youth groups decided to encourage more members to venture into the fisheries business as a source of income.

With Kilifi county having the longest coastline, they were confident that they could get enough fish to meet the demands of local and international markets.

Members of the group procure fish from fish bulking centres on a daily basis. Although there is some competition from middlemen and other fish traders, we buy and sell about 200 kg of fish per day,

we then add value to the fish: JIVIS makes fish fillets, while Kilifi Mwelekeo packages the fish or, for example, open oysters for those customers who do not know how or want to do this themselves,

for example, we sell raw oysters at KSh 30 (€0.30) per piece and when opened, the price increases to KSh 50 (€0.45). At Kilifi Mwelekeo all members work in the group’s business and the profits made per month are shared equally among them,

JIVIS, just two months old in the fish trade business, now employs six of its members and plans to scale up and employ all of its members in the coming months,

all this has been possible because we have had training organised by the USTADI Foundation through the Vijabiz project, which has equipped us with relevant skills in agribusiness. A total of 22 youth from both groups were trained and were able to impart these skills to other group members,

the trainings were offered for free, which allowed some of our members to take part who otherwise could not have afforded to do so. Their eagerness to learn was an important element of the training’s effectiveness,

all of us are involved in the fish business and are interested to gain more knowledge to help us improve our work,

exposure to financial institutions…

we are linked to four financial institutions which assist us with credit and information on financial management. Taking part in the Vijabiz project gave us exposure to these institutions,

we are also able to finance ourselves through the sales of our goods, which are attractive to our clients because we sell them for relatively affordable prices. In addition, we have a good relationship with our partners, including the USTADI Foundation, government departments and our external suppliers,

all of these links make it easy for both groups to mobilise sufficient resources – both financial and information resources. As such, we have been able to purchase new equipment with the support from financial institutions and government departments,”

the bottlenecks…

“Still, it has been an uphill battle for us to access credit from financial institutions because of the tough credit conditions, for instance our lack of collateral which financial institutions require. Nonetheless, our good credit record goes a long way to securing financial support,

another challenge is that we face delays both from our suppliers and delivery to our customers due to poor infrastructure. We are now putting in place plans to acquire our own vehicle to enhance transportation,”

new market linkages created…

“By creating new market linkages, we were able to increase our sales from 6 to 7 t/month. The number and variety of buyers has also greatly increased: initially we supplied fish only to individual fish vendors but currently we also sell to three hotels in Kilifi,

this has been possible because we had an opportunity to showcase our products in trade shows organised by Vijabiz. In addition, ICT training improved our skills in online marketing, maximising our profits compared to when we were marketing only by word of mouth. We post our products on our Facebook pages (‘Kilifi Mwelekeo Fisheries Group’ and ‘JIVIS CBO’) and on our WhatsApp statuses, which has greatly promoted our businesses and enabled us reach new markets,

we also supply our customers with their orders and update the information about our available products on our Facebook pages, and we keep proper records of our purchases and sales, ICT has greatly helped in boosting market linkages, although primarily for the people with internet access,

for people in remote areas of Kilifi, with limited internet access, we make posters to advertise our products. We continue to be able to sell more to increasing numbers of buyers because we offer quality products and services consistently,

we also offer after-sales services, such as free delivery. Satisfied customers then refer us to others, hence increasing our market share despite the stiff competition from other fish traders,”

…the Vijabiz project impact, the lessons and the projections! …as summurised by Mwelekeo and Jiinue youth groups…

‘We recommend that other youth groups not only venture into the selling of fish but also rear fish as an additional way to supply these products to Kenyans’

“Our youth groups have made great steps in reducing youth unemployment in Kilifi county, one of the areas in Kenya where young people struggle with finding work, we opened up the fisheries sector to them, where they can engage in different steps of the fishery value chain,

they have learnt about entrepreneurship, ICTs and value addition, which has helped to propel them forward. Our groups have been successful in selling fish bought from bulking centres, but more can be done,

we plan to use this as a starting point to grow more, as we want to start selling more processed products (like packaged fish, opened oysters and filleted fish) and purchase a boat for deep sea fishing, so that we can stop buying all our fish from fishermen,

since our vision is to create employment through youth, we are planning to work with the youth who have fishing skills who could use the boat. These and other plans have been included in our new business plan. We also want to start selling fish feed to fish pond owners and start exporting octopus,

we are confident that we can beat other businesses. We recommend that other youth groups not only venture into the selling of fish but also rear fish as an additional way to supply these products to Kenyans,

rearing fish could be especially lucrative in other areas, where the market for reared fish like tilapia is higher than in Kilifi. Overall, the training “courses have had an immense impact on our youth groups, so we welcome more organisations to offer agribusiness trainings to the youth in our county!”