Active project: Kenya

Breathing new life into rural economies in Kenya, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation. TREYL is an ambitious four-year programme, demonstrating that regenerative agriculture can create viable businesses opportunities for young people and thriving local economies.

Project overview

Title: Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL)

Dates: 2019 – 2022 

Location: Kisumu and Homa Bay, Kenya

Our role: We provided technical support to the market systems and business model components of the programme. This includes staff training and mentoring, leadership in the design and initial implementation of markets analysis, chairing stakeholder forums and creating engagement strategies for business. 

Participants: We aim to break the cycle of low productivity and poverty levels, targeting 6,000 young people (aged 25-35) in two counties in Kenya, helping them increase their income through agri-businesses.

Value: 5,712,846 GBP

Aim: Farming that works

Donor: IKEA Foundation

We’re committed to transforming sustainable agriculture into a viable career that enables young people in rural areas to afford a better life. Through this partnership, we want to pioneer alternative approaches that can be applied in other communities and other developing countries.”

Annelies Withofs, Programme Manager at The IKEA Foundation


The Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods programme (TREYL) focuses on the needs of young people in rural communities.

Smallholder farmers across Kenya face many challenges. Farmers often struggle to access fertile land to grow their crops and don’t have the money to invest in seeds and equipment. Conventional farming methods, coupled with the impact of climate change, lead to poor yields and harvests that are too small to feed a family and return an income.

Increasingly, young people in Kisumu and Homa Bay view agriculture as an unattractive career option. Many of them choose to leave their rural homes to try and find alternative employment in cities.

Improving the viability of agriculture as a career can address high levels of unemployment in rural areas, keep families together, provide communities with more nutritious food, and boost the local economy. Through regenerative agriculture, a new generation of farmers has the opportunity to write a different story for themselves and their local community.

Our approach

Practical Action works with governments, communities, development agencies and private companies to promote more inclusive and sustainable smallholder agriculture.

The TREYL programme, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, is building a business case to demonstrate that regenerative agriculture can be commercially successful. We are working with an initial cohort of 6,000 young women and men, enhancing their business skills based on an agro-ecological approach to farming.

We are developing multi-stakeholder platforms to improve the poultry, groundnut and tomato value chains. Working groups, made up of commercial providers and government agencies, are tackling access to finance, training services and the provision of market information.

Using these techniques, young farmers can achieve independence and good standard of living, while protecting the environment and giving them skills for the future. 

Our goals

  • To break the cycle of low agricultural productivity and increasing poverty levels in young people aged 25 – 35.
  • 6,000 young people will increase their income by making regenerative agriculture commercially viable.
  • Over the longer term, we will impact 80,000 young people by demonstrating the viability of businesses in the agricultural sector.
  • To transform local market systems, creating demand for products and services provided by young people will ensure the programme’s long-term sustainability.
  • Achievements in 2020

    In just over a year, the programme has mobilised businesses, government and civil society from two sectors. Collaboration between different market actors leads to new solutions to address the constraints associated with access to finance, market information and training. The programme supports the development of a number of new enterprises that support regenerative agriculture and provide opportunities for young people.

    More young people employed within the agricultural sector

    • 242 mentors were recruited (147 males, 95 female), who have influenced a further 277 young people (144 males, 133 female) to engage in agribusiness.
    • Previously many were employed as welders, boda boda drivers (motorbike taxis), or practising subsistence agriculture.

    Increased adoption of regenerative agriculture techniques

    • 53 young people (31 males, 22 female) trained in circular farming systems.
    • In Kisumu, 25 people (15 male, 10 female) have adopted Vermiculture, using seed worms as a starting point. The worms bred are used as chicken feed (a protein supplement), eliminating the additional cost of purchasing protein-rich feeds.

    Improved links to finance and working capital

    • More young people are now linked to financial institutions to support their business and ambitions, including the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Kenya Commercial Bank and Equity bank.
    • Through the Market Interest Groups, these financial institutions have started a dialogue with young people working in agribusiness and have engaged in supporting the programme’s activities. This has built good working relationships and recognition of each other as market actors.
    • As a result, 76 young people (27 female, 49 male) have access to loans from financial institutions and the Youth Saving and Loaning Associations.
    • Over Ksh. 1,400,000 of finance has been made available to young farmers.

    Better access to market information and commercial opportunities

    • Through the Market Interest Groups, young people have access to information regarding market prices, where to sell and buy different products and win business contracts.
    • Different platforms have been created to share information and business opportunities – including instant messaging groups and dedicated Facebook pages.

Sustainable Development Goals

TREYL contributes to progress against four of the 17 SDGs.


TREYL encourages women to get involved with the traditionally male-dominated field of agroecology and thrive through new business skills – making it a viable career option for a new generation.


With so many leaving to urban areas to find work, TREYL instead focuses on local, rural economic work, bolstering the local economy and encouraging environmentally-friendly livelihoods.


TREYL functions through a circular farming system, responsibly caring for the environment and giving back to the local economy.


As part of the training for young farmers, TREYL teaches new approaches to regenerative agriculture to help care for the land.
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