Youth empowerment key to African agricultural transformation
“Investing in young people is never a waste,” and to achieve the required agricultural transformation on the continent, Africa’s youth must be empowered and mentored. Training Coordinator of Young Africa Works-IITA, Evelyn Ohanwusi, asserted this at the Generation Africa panel, which took place on 9 September during the AGRF in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ohanwusi joined other panelists to discuss how to strengthen the young African agripreneur ecosystem. “Young agripreneurs across the continent are recognizing untapped opportunities in the agri-food sector, yet ideally, they would be fostered by a supportive ecosystem to progress faster,” said panel anchor Fredrick Swaniker, CEO of African Leadership Academy.
The panelists spoke of ways to strengthen national ecosystems to support young entrepreneurs to drive inclusive growth in the agri-food sector. They discussed possible measures to unlock the potential, creativity, and imagination of African youth agripreneurs.
Another panel anchor, Syngenta Foundation Executive Director, Dr Simon Winter, noted that past initiatives were not adequately coordinated, with many of them designed to attract high net worth individuals, “but not to support young people from low income, vulnerable rural communities who also could be trusted to transform their regions and grow large businesses in the future.”
Ohanwusi and Bonolo Monthe, Managing Director of Maungo Craft, which won the 2019 GoGettaz Prize, highlighted multiple areas in which young agripreneurs require support to thrive, including shared spaces and incubation hubs, distribution channels and access to markets, and access to funding.
Monthe spoke of the need to form alliances with distributors willing to work with agripreneurs starting small operations.
“The funding mechanism is extremely important. We can have an excellent training program; we can have excellent business plans; if there are no funds or access to finance or credit, there will be no entrepreneurs. There will be no agripreneurs. There would be no business, and there will be no startups,” Ohanwusi concluded.
Other panelists were Sharon Cromer, USAID Mission Director in Ghana; Dr Kanayo Nwanze, CEO of FAYODE, Nigeria; Dana Bolden, Chief Communications Officer, Corteva Agriscience; Anne Maria Makhulo, Chief of International Cooperation AGRA; and Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist and Coordinator, ENABLE Youth, African Development Bank.
Generation Africa is a collaborative network of more than 40 organizations with a vision to strengthen the ecosystem for youth agripreneurs across Africa.