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Growing African agribusiness through peer learning

March 14, 2018

At the 2018 African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN) Conference and Expo, held from 7–9 March in Dakar, Senegal, CTA held an interactive session on how the incubation of women and youth entrepreneurs in agribusiness could be supported through ICT knowledge sharing and peer learning. As one of the co-organisers, CTA also sponsored 30 participants, comprising women and youth agripreneurs, ICT entrepreneurs, and a knowledge management team.

Youth entrepreneurs and women in agribusiness can transform agriculture to deliver jobs, food security and better incomes for farmers in Africa by sharing what they have learnt. This insight was from an interactive session on youth entrepreneurs and women in agribusiness where partners shared perspectives on four key themes: youth entrepreneurship, women in agribusiness, ICT support to agribusiness development, and knowledge sharing, networking and learning.

Sharing is good for business

A 'world café' approach was used to facilitate detailed discussions on challenges faced under the four theme and what innovations and ideas participants had that could put solutions into practice at individual and community levels. "The world café approach enables the wisdom in the audience to be drawn out," said Krishan Bheenick, Senior Programme Coordinator of Knowledge Management at CTA. "People moved from one station to another giving their views on the theme at hand, and another group then came in and reviewed what had been presented by the first group at the first station and added comments. By the end of the session there was a rich set of ideas and suggestions about what could be done about each of the themes that were addressed," Bheenick added.

The themes covered in the session align with CTA's strategic interventions on youth entrepreneurship and the new project, VALUE4HER on women in agribusiness. CTA is also currently exploring how ICTs can specifically support agribusiness. "One of our objectives was to raise awareness on the role of knowledge management in the process incubation of agribusiness and the way entrepreneurs can learn from each other," Bheenick explained. "The fact that we are talking to young people who are not afraid to share their experiences with each other is a good sign that there is scope for knowledge management in contributing to the effectiveness of incubation and business acceleration."

Capitalising on experiences

Believing that information and experience sharing are pivotal to business learning, CTA is promoting experience capitalisation, an approach that ensures practical experiences are captured, and that tangible 'capital' is created out of them. The process identifies specific innovations and practices and leads to an understanding of the reasons behind the success or failure of projects or rural development initiatives.

AAIN CEO, Alex Ariho, emphasised that the agribusiness conference was designed to bring together incubators and enable them to share, interrogate and shift promising practices to good practices in agribusiness, a sector touted to reach a market value of US$1 trillion (€0.8 trillion) in Africa by 2030. Ralph von Kaufmann, an agribusiness mentor and consultant, said that agribusiness creates more jobs than any other sector so it should be top of the agenda for Africa's economic transformation.

"Agribusiness is a driver of agriculture productivity and agriprenuers need the experience of what it means to deliver," said Von Kaufmann, citing inadequate finance, limited experience, poor infrastructure and lack of specific entrepreneurial training as some of the major challenges to agribusiness success.