In March 2018, AfricaRice, the Syngenta Foundation and the CTA launched the PEJERIZ project (Promouvoir l’entrepreneuriat des jeunes et la création d’emplois dans la filière du riz en Afrique de l’Ouest – Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship in West Africa’s Rice Value Chain). Following mobilisation and training workshops in 2018, the project moved on to the selection of projects and business plans in the first quarter of 2019.
From 16–18 July 2018, we brought together 158 young people in Saint Louis for a mobilisation workshop on business opportunities in the rice value chain in Senegal, in order to help them better develop their project ideas. A total of 109 young people were selected from the participants. They then took part in a training programme from 15–26 October 2018 on entrepreneurship, leadership, integrated rice crop management, rice processing, rice marketing and service delivery. The aim was to build the capacities of these young people, but also to prepare them to deliver their project and draw up their business plan. At the end of the training, they were given a business canvas, which each project leader had to complete within a month. The project coordination unit received a total of 87 business plans.
52 business plans selected
The selection committee three partners from AfricaRice and one from the Syngenta Foundation – analysed the 87 business plans submitted by the young entrepreneurs and selected the 40 that were most promising. The selection was based on a set of agreed criteria with a points system. The main criteria included the relevance, technical feasibility, cost, impact and sustainability of the project.
The committee met on 5 6 February 2019 to decide on all the business plans, divided into six sectors;
- Marketing: sale and resale of paddy or white rice
- Service provision: purchase of paddy rice, hulling and packaging of white rice before marketing
- Paddy production for direct sale
- Paddy production and pre-commercial processing
- Production of certified seeds for paddy producers
- Service provision with agricultural machinery
The initial objective had been to finance 40 business plans, but in the end, the selection committee decided to approve 52. They were all handed over to the Gaston Berger University (UGB) incubator, a partner in the project, which specialises in supporting young people and designing support plans.
Exchanges with sector professionals
To accompany the future entrepreneurs, expert project design consultants at the UGB incubator organised a two-day workshop on developing and finalising a business plan. The exchanges between project promoters and the coordination unit made it possible to submit the final version of the 52 projects in early April 2019.
Each young entrepreneur or group of young people was also able to submit an application to the Caisse nationale de credit agricole du Sénégal (CNCAS) for financing on top of that provided by the project and their own personal contributions. On the eve of the workshop, we organised a meeting at the AfricaRice Training Centre between the young people, the CNCAS and the Compagnie agricole de Saint-Louis du Sénégal (CASL) to give the entrepreneurs an opportunity to find out about the credit terms offered by the CNCAS and the contractual arrangements of the CASL. The CNCAS also presented the paddy production activities it has been financing for several years and those underway in the Senegal River Valley, with the aim of encouraging young people to apply for funding. For its part, the CASL presented its activities, explaining the advantages of the contractualisation system established with many producers in the Saint-Louis region. The CASL has gone from renting 50 hectares in 2013, to owning and cultivating 2,600 hectares today a great example for our young entrepreneurs!