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Supporting and Scaling Up Youth Agripreneurship in Kenya

This working document present nine articles that discuss the issue of supporting the growth for young agripreneurs in Kenya, with recommendations for stakeholders. Its content goes beyond the VijaBiz project and includes analyses on other youth in agriculture initiatives organised in Kenya. The articles were written by independent authors who responded to a call for articles launched by the CTA and USTADI Vijabiz project. Some of the articles discuss independently VijaBiz project activities focusing on a county or on some groups.

The 9 articles in this document cover themes such as access to finance, business mentorship, ICTs and social media for agribusiness, market linkages and access that effectively shape-up and enhance rural youth agribusiness in Kenya and beyond. The articles were submitted by authors who responded to a call for articles launched by the project.Chapter 1 details how Youth Economic Empowerment through Agribusiness in Kenya (Vijabiz) provides financing for the youth to engage in profitable agribusiness. It recognises that agriculture employs up to 70 per cent of Kenya’s rural population, and that, globally, the average age of the rural farmer has reduced over the years from 60 to about 34 currently. This means more young Kenyans are now taking up agriculture to create wealth and reduce poverty. However, their greatest challenge is funding. In recognition of this, Vijabiz shortlisted EagleSight youth group in Naivasha, Nakuru County, for capacity assessment. At the time of shortlisting, the group of 13 youth was self-funding through a merry-go-round and doing horticultural farming. However, funding was never sufficient, besides other challenges, including poor prices for their produce, inconsistent weather patterns and difficulty in accessing the far-flung two-acre farm. They therefore thought opening a cereals shop to sell a variety of grains to alleviate some of these challenges. But this would require more money, which they did not have. It’s at this point that Vijabiz came into play, and helped EagleSight to secure a KSh 200,000 (USD 2000) loan from the government’s Youth Enterprise Development Fund and another KSh2 million (USD 20,000) grant from IFAD. Today, thanks to this financing, EagleSight owns two cereals shops and a posho mill fully equipped with Grade 1 and 2 cereal grinders, and there is more income for the members and job opportunities for others along the value chain.
Chapter 2 narrates how Vijabiz nurtured and helped two youth groups to scale up their agripreneurship. Greenbelt is one of the groups that was started by three young men. The trio would buy milk from the neigh-bouring Nyandarua County and ferry to clients in Nakuru using motorbikes. They then joined hands with 11 others with whom they pooled resources and expanded the venture – bought two old freezers to store milk lon-ger and opened milk kiosks. However, people still went for packaged milk with the big brands, and the youth group’s profits remained low. They were about to give up when Vijabiz showed up and helped them acquire a pasteuriser, a chiller and a generator. They were also trained on how to transform their business. The other group, Greenthumb CBO, was engaged in fish farming. However, this group lacked the necessary knowledge, infrastructure and equipment to profitably engage in fish farming. Vijabiz turned around the youth’s fortunes by training the members on fishpond management and technology that enabled them to monitor ponds to determine water quality and health of the fish. They also won a grant of KSh 500,000 (USD5,000) and equipment worth KSh 1 million (USD10,000).Chapter 3 is a study narrating how improving market access, linkages and information boosts farming among the youth. Some of the barriers to market access that Vijabiz sought to remove, according to the study, were lack of social capital, high transaction costs, poor infra-structure and low bargaining power. The study selected youth groups that benefited from the Vijabiz programme in Nakuru County, using a before- and after-test research design. The assessment included market and information access situation before and after the intervention. The study found out that as a result of the intervention most youth groups (86.7 per cent) admitted they had improved their market and information access, while only 13.3 per cent did not improve market access and linkages. The study concluded that in an attempt to scale up agripreneurship among the youth, Vijabiz promoted youth participation in agriculture, linked the youth to financial service providers and provided business mentorship that helped them to reduce their costs and increase profits.
Chapter 4 covers how the youth in Kuresoi South, Nakuru County, were empowered to overcome produc-tion challenges brought about by the effects of climate change. The article focuses on the activities of Cher-okyet CBO in Kuresoi South, through one of its youth groups, Cherokiet Set Kobor Youth Group. Because of its proximity to the Mau complex catchment area, the group took up tree seedlings and Irish potato seed multiplication for artificial agroforestry and environmental conservation. The group’s main aim was to fight food insecurity in the area while contributing to environ-mental conservation. Vijabiz linked the group to Watafiti Consultants, an agribusiness consultancy, capacity building and management firm, which took the group members through an eight-month training and mentorship programe on building profitable and sustainable enterprises. Watafiti Consultants also brought on board other stakeholders, including Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI); certified input providers such as Osho Chemicals, Baraka Fertilisers, Isinya Feeds and AgriCo East Africa Ltd; Vision Fund Kenya; and Joyful Women Organisation. In the end, using loans from Vision Fund Kenya, the group was able to rent 10 acres of land for the Irish potato seed multiplication and each member was able to take home KSh36,700 (USD 360) after three months. The group also planted indigenous and fruit tree seeds and later sold the seedlings to the group members and the local community for transplanting. In 10 years, each indigenous tree is expected to give a return of KSh11,500 (USD110), while every fruit tree is estimated to give KSh8,000 (USD 80) per harvest season after two years from planting.
A study on how women’s entrepreneurial behaviour affect the resilience of dairy agrepreneurs and the performance of the enterprise in Kenya is covered in Chapter 5. The study identifies several challenges that reduce the productivity and general performance of Kenya’s dairy sector. They include poor quality and unavailability of feeds during droughts, controlling livestock diseases, lack of credible sources of information, breeding services and credit accessibility. For dairy agripreneurs to surmount these challenges and continue enjoying the benefits of dairy farming, they must be resilient. The study, conducted in Murang’a County in Central Kenya, purposively sampled 682 smallholder dairy agripreneurs (480 males and 202 females) from four sub-counties – Gatanga, Kiharu, Maragwa and Kangema, using a quantitative research design based on cross-sectional farm household survey. The study found out that both men and women youth agripreneurs who were future oriented were more resilient, while competitive aggressiveness of women positively influenced their agripreneurial resilience. Also, innovativeness and risk-taking behaviour were found to enhance the resilience of women dairy agripreneurs. Overall, in the region of the study, women agripreneurs seem more competitively aggressive than their male counterparts be-cause marketing roles in dairy production are considered as a woman’s job, thus they better understand competition and how to beat it. The same applies to risk-taking because women have to go out of their way to finance their agribusinesses because they don’t own collateral for bank loans such as land. The study, therefore, urges policymakers and developmental agencies to empower women to be more risk-takers, competitive aggressive and innovative to enhance women agripreneurship.Chapter 6 is a study on how dairy youth agripreneurs in Kenya take up climate-smart dairy (CSD) technologies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and upscale their agribusiness. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) aims to achieve three main objectives: sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes; adapting and building resilience to climate change; and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions. The study identifies six CSD technologies and practices as water-smart, energy-smart, nutrient-smart, carbon-smart, weather-smart and business and knowledge-smart. The study collected data through focus group discussions and key informant interviews from a sample of 384 dairy youth agripreneurs in Nakuru County in January and February 2020. From the findings, dairy youth agripreneurs prefer to feed their livestock using concentrates as carbon-smart technologies because they lack space to grow their own fodder. As for weather-smart technologies, the dairy youth agri-preneurs are not willing to acquire livestock insurance because they think it is too expensive. Instead, they prefer climate-smart housing for livestock. The study also found that the younger a dairy farmer is, the less likely they are to adopt improved crop varieties for fodder as a climate-smart technology. This is because the improved varieties take a little more time to mature and the young farmers are not patient enough to wait. They want quick returns. To improve the adoption of CSD technologies among youth dairy agripreneurs, the study recommends extension services to review their programmes that are majorly production based and include the capacity building on the preferred climate-smart technologies.The study in Chapter 7 sought to determine the preferences and willingness to pay for climate resilient potato varieties by youth farmers in order to increase their resilience to climate change and scale up youth engagement in potato agribusiness. The study recognises that climate resilient potato varieties have been developed and disseminated by various research institutions in an attempt to address the adverse effects of climate change on potato production. However, adoption rates of these varieties remain low among youth farmers. Previous studies attribute the low adoption rates to financial and resource constraints, inadequate training and lack of extension services. The study randomly sampled 119 youth farmers from four wards (Mariashoni, Elburgon, Turi and Molo) in Molo Sub-county, Nakuru County. Data was collected through a household survey using structured questionnaires in a discrete choice experiment and was analysed using mixed logit model. Results revealed that resistant to pests and diseases was the most preferred trait with the highest value of willingness to pay while high yield was the least pre-ferred attribute. Female youth farmers mostly preferred resistant varieties unlike their male counterparts who mostly preferred high yielding varieties. Breeding programmes need to incorporate youth farmers’ preferences to increase adoption of improved potato varieties and scale up youth engagement in potato farming agribusiness. The preferred potato attributes for adaptability to climate change by youth farmers from the study were resistance to pests and diseases, low water requirements, short maturation period and high yield.The study in Chapter 8 sought to establish the impact of information and communications technology (ICT) usage on the income of youth agripreneurs in Kenya. Usage of ICT tools such as mobile phones, television and radio in accessing agricultural information and undertaking transactions has gained traction in the last decade in the development of youth-based agrienter-prises. The youth agripreneurs can use the technology to access market information, data on inputs and links to financial institutions for credit facilities. This study used structured questionnaires to collect data from 183 pineapple youth agripreneurs from four wards (Gakoe, Kanyoni, Kamwangi and Mangu) of Gatundu North Sub-county, Kiambu County. The survey revealed that the most commonly used ICT tools in accessing technical, market and financial information among youth agripreneurs were mobile phones (86 percent), radio (79 percent) and then television (59 percent). Younger farmers and better educated youth agripreneurs are more likely to use ICT tools because they are likely to be highly innovative and more enterprising. Also, youth agripreneurs who had access to electricity in their farms were more likely to use ICT. The study also found that participation in group activities promotes use of ICT among youth agripreneurs because group members find it easier to communicate using the ICT tools. Therefore, to scale up youth agripreneurship in using ICT, the study recommends training of youth lacking formal education on ICT utilisation in their agribusiness, increased access to extension services among youthful farmers, and infrastructural development, especially access to electricity and good communication network coverage. There is also a need for regulation on the high interest rates on digital lending to smallholder youth agripreneurs.
Lastly, Chapter 9 delves into DairyProfit project that was aimed at creating employment and business opportunities for the youth in the dairy sub-sector. The project was funded by the CTA and implemented in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. In Kenya, the project was implemented by Perfometer Agribusiness and it facilitated inclusive business relationships by linking/matching youth enterprises in fodder supply and advisory services to dairy cooperatives and processors. The project worked with the youth as technical advisors and extension service providers, and it provided capacity building for the youth to be employable in dairy. Youth were either trained through the on-farm training or in the Dairy and Fodder Academy. The youth who participated in the training reported improved performance in the farms where they worked either as managers or farm operators. Those running their own farms also reported improved production of milk and milk products. One of the key milestones was in fodder processing and supply, where the project identified a mini-silage baler in India that was found to be suitable for the Kenyan context. The baler makes silage of 50-60 kilos that are easy to transport, unlike before when the Kenyan dairy sector relied on balers that made bulky bales of silage weighing 300-400 kilos. The youth accessed the equipment through a competitive grant for which 19 youth enterprises were selected, and are now producing on average 499,913 kilos (over 10,000 bales) of silage in months. The major challenges identified in the project included gender imbalance – 85 percent of all participants were men – short project duration and limited technical capacity.

ICT uses by rural youth in Kenya

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This study is produced in the framework of activities of the Vijabiz project implemented by CTA and Ustadi Foundation in Kenya. It aimed at establishing rural youth groups’ access and use of different ICT and social media in their agribusiness activities. The study also sought to assess the gaps and barriers affecting the use of ICTs by rural youth in Kenya and provide recommendations.

Pathways to Rural Youth Agribusiness Success: Stories from the Vijabiz project

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The different cases or stories presented in this booklet are the results from the experience capitalization exercise and give insights into the specific lessons learnt by the workshop participants, through analysis of their involvement in diverse activities of the Vijabiz project and the influence on their businesses.

Proudly Agripreneurs

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This booklet highlights key elements of the publication Ils l’ont fait ! published by CTA in collaboration with MediaProd from Burkina Faso, which outlines the achievements of 24 entrepreneurs that have been featured by Agribusiness TV.

Business models and key success drivers of agtech start-ups

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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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