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Youth

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

© Iceaddis/CTA/Petros Teka

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.

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As part of the Innovative Enterprise Development and Market Linkages for Young Agripreneurs in Burkina Faso (iDEAL Burkina) project, a Pitch AgriHack competition was organised in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso on 15 and 16 October 2018. The aim was to select digital applications that could support agricultural development.

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Across Africa, food production is low and post-harvest losses are high, primarily due to a lack of value addition and best post-harvest handling practices. However, given the diverse potentials of African agriculture, there is no doubt that the continent has the right resources and comparative advantage to scale-up production and move away from primary production to higher-value finished goods. Such a transition would fetch greater returns on the market and create employment opportunities across the value chain.

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Africa’s dairy industry is faced with a number of challenges, including low productivity per cow, fluctuating milk production, inconsistent milk quality, the high cost of production, inefficiencies along the value chain and a large informal sector. Nevertheless, the dairy value chain is one of the most dynamic sectors in East Africa and critical to the country’s rural economy. Driven by population growth, urbanisation and improved purchasing power, the regional demand for dairy is growing by at least 2.2% each year.

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It is widely recognised that access to finance is one of the biggest barriers to more young people becoming engaged in agriculture. Here, Varun Baker, a young Jamaican entrepreneur and winner of the CTA Pitch AgriHack 2018 contest, explains why he is convinced that blockchain technology can help to change this – and how his own start-up Farm Credibly is using the technology to improve access to finance for unbanked farmers.

Wageningen, the Netherlands April 25 2019. Pitch AgriHack, the annual competition that awards young entrepreneurs in ICTs for agriculture (ICT4Ag) is open for applications. Now in its fourth year, Pitch AgriHack is an initiative by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) that supports ICT4Ag entrepreneurs through capacity building and funding to accelerate youth employment and agricultural transformation.

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So you have what you are convinced is a winning idea for an agri start-up. But what about the funding? They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and young agripreneurs reveal there is no one single model when it comes to finding the money to get a business plan up and running.

Avec plus d’un milliard d’habitants, l’Afrique est l’une des régions les plus jeunes et dynamiques au monde. Le continent africain compte 60 % de jeunes de moins de 35 ans et 420 millions ont entre 15 à 35 ans, un chiffre qui devrait doubler d’ici à 2040.

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The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation’s (CTA) joint project with the USTADI Foundation – Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) – has selected 166 youth groups to receive capacity building and financial support. The membership of the selected youth groups total 2,373 young farmers, who will be the beneficiaries of the project being implemented in Kilifi and Nakuru counties in Kenya between 2018 and 2020.

This brief explores the challenges and opportunities facing young people trying to enter the agricultural and agribusiness sector. It focuses on actions that governments and other development actors can take to make the sector more attractive to young people, with an emphasis on those that can increase productivity, strengthen the value chains and increase the participation of young people in policy dialogue.

Since the launch of CTA’s Pitch AgriHack Talent Initiative in 2013, over 1 million farmers and agricultural stakeholders have benefited from services provided by start-up companies involved in its annual competitions. Their ICT-based innovations have helped to raise more than €2 million from investors and development specialists.

In many West African countries, the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas has led to an exodus of young people, both to major cities in the region and to Europe. This is a serious loss, as the young offer a potentially dynamic labour force at a time when the agricultural sector is desperately short of workers.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, employing more than 70% of people in rural areas and contributing 26% of the GDP. However, youth unemployment in the countryside, as well as in the cities, is growing. Some 30% of Kenyans between the age of 20 and 24 are currently out of work. Increasing youth employment in agriculture could do much to address this problem, and it is one of the main aims of CTA’s ‘Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya’ (VijaBiz) project.

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Timely completion of field preparation and grain harvesting is a major challenge for rice farmers across sub-Saharan Africa. A new business model led by young people is providing mechanised services to farmers for activities such as soil preparation and harvesting, helping them to intensify production and improve their income as a result.