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Kenya’s national GDP currently stands at an estimate of 70 billion US dollars. Agriculture contributes over a quarter of this. This is most probably the reason why every GHC/Social Studies(depending on when you were born), Geography and Economics class, makes sure to instill in young citizens as they grow, that Agriculture has always been and still is the backbone of Kenya’s economy. It accounts for 65% of our country’s total exports, and for 18% and 60% of formal and informal employment respectively.

I am no city girl; I grew up in a small village in the Western region,where my parents made us understand right from the early stages of our lives, that agriculture was very important. On farm days we were woken up at dawn,(which I hated because I never was, never have been a morning person and for some reason sleep is usually sweetest just when you have to wake up) jembes flung across our shoulders and we would head to the farm. My younger brother and I would cry sometimes when hours later, we got hungry and worn out and my mother insisted that no one left the shamba till all the work for the day was done. “One day you will see the need for this. For now though, cry as much as you want to, but kazi ifanywe!” she would retort.

I did eventually, one time when I literally dug my way out of a punishment in school and the rest of the girls that couldn’t do it to perfection faced the cane. Barclays Bank of Kenya has also seen the vital importance of Agriculture, as last month, the bank launched a Sh25 million partnership with Technoserve to support over 240 youth-owned agribusiness enterprises under the African Young Agripreneurship Program (AYAP). The one year program will help young farmers from Kajiado, Bomet, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Embu and Kiambu counties to develop strong businesses while linking them to information, capital and markets.

Today, it unveiled an Agribusiness Unit whose purpose is to provide innovative financial solutions throughout the value chain of Kenya’s agricultural sector. The bank sees the vital need to itself to the hub of the economy, hence the launch of the agribusiness unit.

Speaking during the launch of the new unit, Barclays Bank of Kenya’s Managing Director, Jeremy Awori said that the bank is determined to play its part in making Kenya the region’s bread basket and a net food exporter as envisioned in the Vision 2030 economic blueprint.

“We are taking a multifaceted approach underpinned by the provision of financial solutions, market access opportunities and knowledge exchange. We have recruited a team of agricultural specialists who understand the variable and cyclical nature of Agri-business to help us tailor-make flexible and cost effective financial solutions that will cater to the entire value chain,” said Mr. Awori.

Barclays Bank aims to use its regional and global reach to benchmark against best practice and develop creative and innovative solutions that will boost the sector’s performance. It aims to be a market leader in Agrifinance

Other than just lending money, the unit will walk the entire journey, providing important information and guidance on issues such as demand and supply forces, commercial viability, value addition, access to export markets among others. The specialists will offer expertise across the value chain giving entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector a wholesome support system.

I have to call my mother now. This she will be super excited about.

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