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Youth

Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment through Access to ICTs and Business Development Services

© CTA

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This interpretative phenomenological research focuses on youth-led companies offering digital services to the agrifood sector in West Africa. Youth is considered as per the African Union definition: individuals aged between 15 and 35 years old. Research questions were to understand the business models adopted by these start-ups; how their business models and business model innovation lead to business success; other key drivers that can support the achievement of success.

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The Innovative Cooperative for Optimal Nutrition (ICON) was launched in March 2018 in Burkina Faso by 16 Ashoka fellows, with the aim of supporting the consumption, production and trade of local, highly nutritious food products through a new collective brand. Its Director General Lamisse Kandil looks back at the efforts made to establish the ICON Africa label as a guarantee of health and nutritional quality and a model for sustainable development.

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They say that the future belongs to the young. In Africa, the future of the continent’s agriculture almost certainly belongs to its youth. More than 60% of Africans are under 25, and every year, 10-12 million young people enter the job market in search of employment. Vast numbers work in farming in rural areas – agriculture employs almost 70% of the population – but the prospect of higher wages and a more secure livelihood is driving urban migration for many others.

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One in four businesses generally fail before their second year, and half do not survive beyond the fifth year; a situation experienced by many youth-led agri-enterprises in Kenya. This is a concern in a country which has a very young population coupled with a high youth unemployment rate. Economically viable agribusinesses could help to address this challenge; thriving youth-led agribusinesses are vital for job creation, make agri-enterprises attractive to the youth and hence could contribute towards alleviating youth unemployment in Kenya.

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In the Pacific islands, where the population is expected to double by 2050, there is an urgent need for youth to become entrepreneurial and creative risk-takers to help develop innovative, and environmentally sustainable, agricultural economies. But, although more than half of the South Pacific population (10 million) is under 25 years-old, these young people are experiencing problems in entering both formal and informal labour markets. Each year, 16,000 highly skilled Pacific islanders leave their countries for better paid jobs.

The AgriHack Talent initiative is one of the CTA’s best-known projects, particularly through its AgriHack Pitch start-up support programme. We take a look back on this initiative, which, over the course of just a few years, has succeeded in bringing together agriculture, entrepreneurship and new technologies.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 8 August 2019. A Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) sponsored competition that will support Ethiopian agricultural entrepreneurs was launched yesterday with a prize fund of an estimated €35,000 (over 1 million Ethiopian birr).

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Four Senegalese start-ups have received coaching and help in drawing up business growth plans from Ernst & Young (EY), as part of the AgriHack Talent initiative. Here, we look back at a successful pilot project that bodes well for fruitful collaboration among CTA, a leading international consulting firm, and promising new businesses.

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While the history of agricultural cooperatives in Central Africa since the 1980s has been marked by many failures, mainly linked to weak institutional governance and the lack of any economic response to the needs of local operators, the last 10 years have seen the emergence of a much more positive trend. Cooperatives are gradually modernising and becoming more professional. Establishing a farmers’ cooperative and associative movement in this region is a key prerequisite for agricultural development.

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The stage is set for the 2019 iteration of the Pitch AgriHack competition. 20 judges have completed the evaluation of semi-finalist start-ups and have selected the finalists. The judges are industry experts (ICT and agriculture), entrepreneurs and investors coming from Africa and beyond.

Semi-finalists have been selected for Pitch AgriHack 2019, the annual competition that awards young entrepreneurs in ICTs for agriculture (ICT4Ag). The competition supports entrepreneurs through capacity building and funding to accelerate youth employment and agricultural transformation.

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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.