The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) shut down its activities in December 2020 at the end of its mandate. The administrative closure of the Centre was completed in November 2021.

Young ICT entrepreneurs overcoming challenges and transforming agriculture

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the United Nations adopted in September 2015 urge all stakeholders to take necessary actions to end hunger (Goal 1), double agricultural productivity of small-scale food producers by 2030 (Goal 2, Target 2.3) and promote policies that support entrepreneurship (Goal 8, Target 8.3).

Increasing the productivity and sustainability of agriculture depends, to a large degree, on engaging young people in the sector, drawing on their energy and innovations. This publication, put together by CTA’s Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society (ARDYIS) project, in collaboration with Ashoka, shows how this might be achieved.

The booklet presents 20 ICT-enabled entrepreneurial ventures created by young innovators from African and Caribbean countries. The innovations feature the use of mobile phones, social media, websites and a new generation of tractors. Services offered target various segments and facilities along the agricultural value chain, from pre-production to production, financing, marketing, trade and consumption.

The case studies offer analyses, by the young entrepreneurs themselves, of the factors that triggered them to start the initiatives, the challenges they faced and the strategies they put in place to overcome them. Through their stories, the young entrepreneurs provide useful advice to other young people who might be interested in ICT-enabled agro-entrepreneurship.

Although the ventures presented are still in early stages of development, they already demonstrate successes. Many innovators have launched their companies after winning competitions, or have been acknowledged as successful endeavours and benefited from programmes including CTA’s AgriHack Talent initiative and Plug & Play events. Several of them already reach thousands of farmers, young and old. Almost all innovations presented have been tested for at least 2 years.

The young innovators featured in this publication are role models who can inspire others and encourage them to innovate for agriculture. Their stories are a testimony of how young people are already contributing to transforming agricultural value chains through their innovations. They demonstrate that these types of efforts can contribute to increasing employment, and fostering food and nutrition security. A key message that comes out from these stories is the need for all stakeholders to develop holistic strategies that can build youth agribusiness capacities and advance this novel type of agro-entrepreneurship.