Youth Appeal for Support in Scaling Up Agripreneurship Enterprises
September 6th, 2019
This is Africa’s Century. This declaration has been trending at the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Accra, Ghana, and appears set to become a reality as hundreds of youth at the Accra International Conference Centre have for three days now shown a commitment to pursue the opportunities arising from the agriculture industry.
At present, agriculture, even as it is practised inefficiently in most parts of Africa, employs more than 70 percent of the population and is accountable for an average 70 percent of the food consumed in the continent.
However, as hundreds of thousands of youth graduate from schools to compete for the shrinking opportunities in the labour market, it is becoming apparent that their best chances are in the food value chains.
Of Africa’s nearly 420 million youth aged 15-35, one-third are unemployed, another third are vulnerably employed, and only one in six is in wage employment.
“The problem of joblessness, poverty and hunger in Africa can only be solved by agriculture. Thankfully, we have more than enough of the resources required to make it a vibrant industry, and all we need is a change in attitude among the youth to recognize the unlimited opportunities it portends,” said Mr. Patrick Ofosu-Agyemang, the CEO of AgroInnova, a software company creating support tools to support and manage processes in the agricultural sector.
Mr. Ofusu-Agyemang was speaking at a panel seeking solutions to help the youth to productively participate in the continent’s agricultural growth. Joining him were Ms. Sonita Tossou, CEO, Fenou Foods, Starlin Farah, COO, Ecodudu Ltd and GoGettaz Agripreneur Award winner Isaac Sesi, Co-Founder, Sesi Technologies.
Among the obstacles blocking the youth from entering the agricultural value chains include access to information, technology, and financial services. Other challenges include the lack of support by administrative authorities.
“Getting approval for such things as packaging is, in most countries, a lengthy and expensive affair,” said Ms. Farah, whose Ecodudu utilizes the black soldier fly technology to manufacture organic fertilizers.
“Some of these administrative and permitting processes need to be re-considered to give emerging businesses a competitive advantage,” she added.
Mr. Sesi also appealed for a supportive ecosystem that encourages the scaling of digitally-enabled, environmentally conscious, and market-led ventures to deliver jobs and healthy food, while respecting the natural environment.
“Financing is one of the biggest challenges for young entrepreneurs entering the agriculture industry and success can only be realized through collaborative efforts to educate, support and invest in young talent,” Sesi said, an assertion that was supported by Ms. Tossou.
“As the youth, we have no shortage of ideas, and it only takes a little confidence by investors to support us and we will take off to surprising achievements,” said Tossou.
In the end, all present agreed that the involvement of the youth in African agriculture is critical for the growth of the sector, and that solutions for financing, policy and market-related challenges will make the industry even more attractive.