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Young people shape their economic future

Kenya, July 30, 2012

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Agriculture dominates Kenya’s economy. Roughly 75% of working Kenyans make their living on the land. Tea is one of Kenya’s leading cash crops, yet youth have not traditionally been involved in its production. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    George Ngethe and a group of peers within his local bunge (a youth group) started a tea nursery using the excess cuttings from local tea farms. Today, they work with local tea farmers and factories to sell their tea at local market price. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Tomato production is popular with both small- and large-scale farmers in Kenya. On a budding plot, Mercy Corps staff visit with youth who are able to capitalize on this growing agricultural sector through Yes Youth Can! Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Yes Youth Can! participants gather in classrooms such as this to talk about the issues affecting their communities and explore ideas for service projects, small businesses and leadership opportunities. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Youth utilize their skills and passions to create small businesses and market opportunities. This young leader is able to sell his artwork at a local community center frequented by tourists and locals alike. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In Kenya, it’s important to get the approval of elders in the community. Here, young people and village chiefs work together to launch a community service project. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    One bunge decided to rehabilitate a broken-down cattle dip. Cattle dips are used to prevent disease spreading among livestock and benefits multiple farms within the community. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Since recycling is virtually non-existent in rural Kenya, another local bunge works to educate the community on improved waste management techniques. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Yes Youth Can! encourages adults and working professionals to serve as mentors to program participants. Their success has sparked curiosity even amongst the youngest members of the community, who talk of becoming leaders themselves one day. Photo: Salma Bahramy/Mercy Corps

Young people in Kenya face enormous hurdles. Today, the youth unemployment rate is an alarming 65% and growing. Suffering with few job prospects and a slow economy, many young people have been lured into violence fueled by political and tribal conflict.

Mercy Corps, with funding from USAID, launched Yes Youth Can! in order to prevent future unrest and give young Kenyans the chance to shape their own economic futures. Young people lead and manage a fund that provides capital for small businesses and community service projects, engaging them as investors in positive and constructive endeavors.