The event focused on the critical questions related to how agriculture becomes a driver of economic growth in Africa, with particular attention paid to youth entrepreneurs in the second panel discussion moderated by Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, director of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development. Introducing the session, Dr Kamau-Rutenberg outlined her goals for the discussion: to place youth agripreneurs at centre stage; to enable them to share their experiences and learn from each other's challenges and strategies for success; and to encourage participating stakeholders to listen and learn from the experiences of youth entrepreneurs in designing interventions that respond to the needs of agricultural value chains across the continent.
The panellists - themselves agripreneurs, - highlighted key areas in need of improvement to facilitate growth of African agripreneurship and enhance gender diversity. They stressed the need to create an environment that supports graduates to contribute to economic growth in agriculture with the development of networking events and mentoring programmes, and, critically, better infrastructure and financing systems.
Tendai Mugovi, founder of Sorghum World in Zimbabwe, at the youth entrepreneurs panel
Oluwayimika 'Angel' Adelaja, founder of Nigerian-based Fresh Direct, called on governments to create an environment that is conducive to providing decent jobs for young people, to create a reliable road network, and to set up banking systems to support young people. "You have to be realistic. You have to be passionate about what you do... [But] systems need to be in place to work to make goals a reality. I would like women to provide mentorship to the young," she explained.
Tendai Mugovi, founder of Sorghum World in Zimbabwe, also stressed the need for improved access to finance, he stated that funding is one of the biggest challenges young agripreneurs face. However, Ken Lohento, CTA's ICT for agriculture programme coordinator, emphasised that, "The issue is not only the availability of money, but is also about how young entrepreneurs can manage money and how they can be investment ready – so that they can talk to the investor and know their language." Skills which CTA's Pitch AgriHack initiative aims to impart to young ICT4Ag entrepreneurs, some of whom will be presenting their start-ups at the AGRF on Thursday 7th September.
The potential for technology to overcome networking and funding problems faced by agripreneurs was also discussed. Peter Awin, founder of Ghana's CowTribe, argued that mobile technology is one way to solve these problems and Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions concluded the discussion by stating, "Technology is fundamental... if you can harness the power of technology to connect, learn, and make decisions, you open up opportunities for agriculture."
Youth entrepreneurs at the 7th African Green Revolution Forum
For more information, a video recording of the event can be found on CTA's Facebook page at: https://tinyurl.com/ydbetn6f