In Kenya, the level of unemployment is very high with the most affected being the youth who are graduating from universities and other institutions of learning, who fail to secure formal employment opportunities and hence fail to gainfully contribute to economic development of the country despite their enthusiasm, energy and drive. The need to come up with strategies to deal with the situation is highly regarded. One of the strategies put in place by the government is the Youth Employment Development Fund. The overall objective of the YEDF is to support youth oriented small and medium enterprises, in various capacities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the entrepreneurial factors influencing the performance of youth enterprise development funded enterprises in Kirinyaga County, Kenya. This is because the studies dealing with the entrepreneurial factors of youth enterprises funded by YEDF are limited and hence this study aimed at enriching this gap. Two objectives guided this study; the influence of entrepreneurial experience and entrepreneurial es. The research utilized personal interviews and questionnaires to collect data from the respondents. Stratified random sampling technique was used to draw the sample. The data was subjected to descriptive and inferential statistical analysis, and the results represented in statistical tables and pie charts among others. Data was analysed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative data was analysed manually followed by categorization and coding into emerging themes and presented in a narrative form. Quantitative data was organized, coded, and standardized then descriptive statistics was used to analyse aided by statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). Entrepreneurial networking had the best correlation with performance of YEDF youth enterprises, which is a strong positive correlation. The implication is that entrepreneurial networking among youthful entrepreneurs in Kirinyaga County is vital in cultivating network ties that can bring with it marketing assistance in the form of new markets and marketing capabilities for youth SMEs. Entrepreneurship experience was the second best predictor of performance of youth enterprise development funded enterprises, with a significant positive correlation. This implies that entrepreneurial experience among youthful entrepreneurs is paramount to the overall performance of the enterprise. Most important independent variable in measuring performance of YEDF funded youth enterprises in the regression model was networking, followed by entrepreneurial experience. This shows that one unit change in networking results in 0.951 unit increase in performance. The study concluded that entrepreneurial networking is the best measure of performance of YEDF funded enterprises since it had the best correlation. The study recommends that that the youth entrepreneurs should be introduced to business development and incubation centres to acquire the necessary experience that they lack in order for them to run their enterprises successfully. Networking of youth enterprises is central to success of any enterprise and there is need for YEDF to help in exposing the enterprises to potential customers through vertical and horizontal networking. An area for further research is to investigate the entrepreneurial factors influencing the performance of YEDF funded women enterprises in Kirinyaga County should also be conducted.

Key Words: Entrepreneurial, Performance, Youth Enterprise Development

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