Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT) is a development organization that facilitates sustainable economic development of smallholder farmers and Agri Enterprises to increase productivity, income, and profitability and enhance competitiveness for decent job creation, especially for youth and women.

MESPT continues implementing its mandate through two key segments: Value Chain & Enterprise Development and Financial Services. Value Chain & Enterprise Development focuses on value chain and market systems development. MESPT also provides financial services geared towards wholesale lending/credit and capacity building for financial intermediaries and small and medium enterprises in agriculture. MESPT has been promoting financial inclusion by supporting agriculture and green transformation for over a decade.

Eligible beneficiaries for wholesale credit include financial service providers like SACCOs and MFIs, as well as direct lending to SMEs, farmer cooperatives, and women- and youthled enterprises. MESPT offers an innovative loan product with a maximum loan size of Kes. 300M, at an affordable interest rate of not more than 10%, and a flexible repayment plan. The financing has other features that include patient capital, easily accessible, flexible and is accompanied with technical assistance where appropriate.

MESPT is currently implementing 2 projects namely Low Hanging Fruits For Youth Employment project and Regenerative Foodscapes Initiatives and 3 programmes which include the Green Employment in Agriculture Programme funded by DANIDA, The Spurring Job Creation in Kenya by Enhancing the Competitiveness of the Banana Sub Sector programme funded by DMDP and The Food Safety System for Value chain Competitiveness programme commonly known as the Agricultural The programme has four components and MESPT is implementing components 2 and 3 through a partnership with the Royal Danish Embassy- DANIDA.

Component 2 aims to strengthen the capacities of value chain actors through the Agricultural, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (ATVET) model, and component 3 aims to enhance the capacity of the Public and Private sectors to enforce food safety, plant and animal health regulations. The Programme is being implemented in 13 counties with a special focus on aquaculture, dairy and horticulture (beans in pods (French beans, snow peas and sugar snaps), mango and avocado).

Finance Initiative ) AgriFI) programme funded by the European Union. The AgriFI Programme helps Kenya’s smallholder farmers and pastoralists to supply Kenyan and export markets with high quality value products that are safe for human consumption.

The AgriFI programme’s implementation is in its seventh year in 2024, and the programme implementation models and their respective achievements are highlighted.

Implementation Approaches

PSLF -ATVET Model and Financial Inclusion

The Private Sector Lead Firms (PSLF) Model involves creating strong linkages between the private sector through privately owned firms (PSLF)) with the ATC/ ATVET Centres in delivering Competency-Based Education and Training (CBET) while focusing on industry needs and requirements. The Programme has implemented this model by strengthening the PSLF’s capacity to deliver training and extension services to farmers in a concerted effort with the Counties through the ATVET approach.

This private sector-led approach has enhanced the last-mile delivery of practical training and helped reduce the farmer extension gaps. In addition, these PSLFs act as off-takers or aggregators of farm produce, thus enhancing market access for smallholder farmers.

Most private sector lead firms are categorized as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and often face the challenge of access to affordable credit, which is integral to business growth through increasing the scale of their business operations. MESPT, through its Credit Arm, has been responding to these needs by providing access to finance that is patient, easily accessible, flexible and affordable, and the credit is accompanied by tailored technical assistance suitable to the needs of the target organization. The interest rates range from 6 -10% on reducing balance.

Some of the PSLF beneficiaries of this credit product include Kirima Dairy Cooperative, Meru Dairy Union and Shammah AgriBiz Group Ltd. For the Cooperative and the Union, the credit facility will be used for lending to Dairy Farmers, while the Loan to Shammar Agribiz Ltd will be used for expanding the Business through the construction of a tissue culture lab for the production of certified avocado and banana seedlings.

This is in addition to building the technical capacity to address skills and knowledge gaps, market linkages and training on food safety compliance to spur trade.

Wet Market Concept as part of Covid 19 Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MESPT, through the AgriFI programme, initiated a wet market concept intervention aimed at proactively addressing risks posed by food-borne diseases associated with viruses and pathogens in the marketplace.

Of importance was addressing the challenges of hygiene and sanitation in markets, waste management, regulation, ownership, management, and oversight.

Through the wet market intervention, the programme has facilitated the set-up of the market committees and equipped them with appropriate skills to undertake management roles through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Additionally, the programme in collaboration with the target county governments have improved the market infrastructure thus significantly enhancing the overall sanitation and hygiene situation of the markets and ensuring waste is well managed within the market by embracing circular approaches to waste management. All these have positively impacted the livelihoods of more than 500 traders in the 5 target markets in Kisii, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Meru, and Mtwapa.

Strengthening of Food Safety Control System through County Food Safety Committee .

The objective of this approach was to enhance the capacity of the private sector and County Governments to implement and enforce standards related to animal health, food safety, and plant health. This was achieved by strengthening the institutional and legal framework at the County Government level.

The approach involved targeted support to the legislative processes with the thirteen counties of focus. To begin with, County Food Safety Coordination Committees (CFSC) were established, similar to the National Food Safety Coordination Committee (NFSCC).

These committees’ role is to coordinate the enforcement of sanitary and phytosanitary standards at the county level. The committee membership comprises representatives from the public sector, the Competent Authority, and the private sector, mainly companies involved in the processing of different commodities within the respective counties. Over the implementation period, the programme has supported the committees in achieving milestones such as formulating Acts, Bills, and policies related to Food Safety, ATVETs, and management of wet markets. So far, 12 Food Safety policies have been approved, and 9 ATVET policies are at the Cabinet level. Furthermore, the partners’ commitment has resulted in the enactment of the ATVET bill for Nyandarua and the Wet market bill for Nakuru at the respective County Assemblies.

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