Sep 10, 2021 | Blog

Ecosystem Development Framework (EDF): Enabling youth through their agripreneurship journey and participation in the food systems.

Generation Africa is a partnership initiative that strengthens the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent.

Making agriculture more attractive to young farmers and creating decent employment opportunities in rural areas could reverse the migration of young people to cities and abroad. Youth migration to urban centres increases the burden on African cities and leads to the proliferation of slums. Generation Africa looks at what needs to be done to support young people to become agripreneurs across Africa and make the agricultural value chain more attractive in order to curtail ‘distress migration’. This will also unlock the potential of the sector in providing decent employment and improved livelihoods by encouraging and increasing youth participation in agribusiness as self-employed and employers of fellow young people.

The Ecosystem Development Framework (EDF) initiative will help countries shift from information and studies to a framework approach to strengthen the collaboration and coordination of youth support. This is our pathway to recovery, a collaborative network of over 40 organisations and a movement that is building across the continent. Generation Africa is at the vanguard and needs young, dynamic agripreneurs to come forward in the knowledge they will be supported.

Senegal is running an experiment that brings together intelligence to identify gaps for governments to fill and strengthen ecosystems for agri-food entrepreneurs. It provides a framework to guide youth, bring together networking, success stories, policies, funding options, training and capacity building, knowledge sharing and innovation. By 2030 more than 300,000 young job seekers will enter the labour market annually. Agrifood market systems have the potential to provide employment opportunities for young job seekers in Senegal and 50% of youth seek agriculture jobs.

USAID is committed to locally owned, locally managed African businesses and the young must be part of them and embrace systems thinking. USAID delivers inclusive and sustainable market development, but needs to be more intentional about ensuring equality. Women have traditionally been the focus of this, and now we need to expand that to include the young. For that to happen there has to be intentionality and government must play a role.

Eric Onchanga, Founder of IrriHub, Youth GoGettaz, questions why all entrepreneurs cite finance as their biggest problem. He thinks there are more important things and that if we are to make agribusiness attractive to young people we need a strong ecosystem, and that requires three things: 1) mentorship 2) enabling government policies and 3) partnerships among agri-preneurs to support each other and spread best practice.

Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist/Coordinator, Enable Youth – African Development Bank (AfDB) supports an initiative aimed at young agripreneurs. The bank has traditionally focused on big business, but they are developing a new approach of public-private cooperation in the agriculture sector. Enable Youth is a broad programme with no assumption that after support is provided, financing will follow. A dedicated finance project partners with local institutions to enhance the bank’s limited resources by working with other institutions to leverage what they already have. This provides increased flexibility, including preferential rates for start-ups and tailored, guaranteed instruments.

Digital initiatives are also important, and they don’t have to be complicated. One of the most simple but effective interventions is WhatsApp groups that spread information. These can also address a cultural hesitation to fail and encourage people to take more risk by sharing stories and experiences and embracing failure.

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