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Results BriefsOctober 2, 2023

Creating employment opportunities for vulnerable youth in Kenya

The Kenya Youth and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) has reached 310,889 vulnerable youth, 50% of them women. This includes 133,453 through skilling interventions and business support. About 86% of youth earned a wage or were self-employed; 20% of those employed prior to the interventions saw an increase in income; and 48% of the recipients of business support interventions created jobs for others.

Esther Karisa, a young woman from Baraka, Kenya

"I was born in a village called Baraka in a poor family. Life was hard to the point where I had lost hope. I was tired of doing menial jobs like planting trees as the hours were long and the pay was very low. My fortunes changed when I joined KYEOP and chose a welding course. This was shocking in my community as people did not believe a woman could do a man’s job. People have now trusted me with their work. I am generating more income and I am employing young welders. I am so proud to be a woman doing welding.”

310,889 beneficiaries

The project has reached 310,889 beneficiaries, 50% of them female, including 3% youth living with disabilities.


Poor employment and weak productivity disproportionately affect Kenyan youth. This is reflected in a labor force participation rate of 38% for Kenyans between the ages of 15 and 24 years. New entrants into the workforce annually outpace the capacity of the economy to absorb them in productive employment. Many youth lack relevant work experience and the cognitive, technical, socio-emotional, and business skills required to be productive. The 2019 Kenya Continuous Household Survey also found women significantly more likely than men to be neither employed nor in school, with women representing 59% of those inactive and 74% of those who were Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).


The World Bank sought to increase employment and other earning opportunities for targeted vulnerable youth, and placed a premium on human development and supporting inclusive growth. The Bank designed a comprehensive, multifaceted, innovative complementary approach that engaged local master craftsmen to deliver on-the-job learning. It also piloted a results-based financing model with training providers and social enterprises to reach hard-to-serve youth. This approach helped the Government of Kenya test the scalability of the interventions, culminating in a new national program that will scale to all 47 counties. An impact evaluation assessment was included as part of the project design, to test different interventions in order to help advise the government on which high-impact interventions to invest in. 



The Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP) has helped deliver on the World Bank’s 2018 Kenya Country Partnership Framework (CPF) outcome number 5.3 Enhanced Market Skills for Youth at Risk, by directly reaching 310,889 beneficiaries, of whom 50% were women, passing its target of 280,500 youth. This has also contributed to meeting the CPF’s objective number 5 Improved Social Service Delivery for Vulnerable Groups, Particularly Women.

The project has reached 310,889 beneficiaries, 50% of them female, including 3 % youth living with disabilities. In addition, 50 new trade testing standards have been developed by Kenya’s National Industrial Training Authority, covering a variety of relevant and emerging labor market occupations.

Specific achievements include:

  • 133,453 received training, grants, or business development services.
  • Improved employability outcomes - overall 86% of beneficiaries in employment.
  • 81% of youth receiving skills training and internship packages were in some form of employment (self or formal employment).
  • 90% of youth receiving business development services and/or grants were in some form of employment.
  • There was a 20% increase in earnings of beneficiaries in employment. On average beneficiaries who were in employment were earning a total of KES 10,970 per month before joining KYEOP. After graduating from KYEOP, the beneficiary incomes increased to an average of KES 13,793 for those in some form of employment.

Bank Group Contribution

The total cost of the project in IDA funding is  $150 million.


Given that youth challenges are multifaceted, joint implementation of the project by different government agencies ensured the challenges were addressed by multiple stakeholders to provide bundled interventions that guaranteed a higher rate of employment of 86% against a target of 75%. The implementing agencies were the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority, the State Department for Labor, and the National Industrial Training Authority, with the State Department for Youth Affairs and Arts in charge of overall coordination.

Looking Ahead

The success of KYEOP has led the Government of Kenya to request a follow-up project. That project, National Youth Employment and Opportunities Towards Advancement (NYOTA), builds on KYEOP’s impact by scaling existing interventions to all 47 counties, expanding the package of interventions to provide beneficiaries with savings opportunities, and leaving room for innovation to create sustainable youth employment systems across the country.