Cohort 5 of the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness training is drawing to a close and the business plan reviews are full underway. This is always an exciting time to see the new business ideas of the young entrepreneurs and to give them constructive feedback to further improve their business plans.
We have been consolidating a series of impact stories about the young entrepreneurs who have followed our training. One of these is Sylivia, who is a 28-year-old agripreneur and post-graduate student at Gulu University in Uganda, is currently working towards a master’s degree in Agri-Enterprises Development. Whilst following the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness training, Sylivia identified a market opportunity in the livestock feed market due the high costs of processed industrial feed coupled with the limited availability of quality protein locally for farmers.Sylivia’s business, Goshen Maggot Farm, involves the production of black soldier fly larvae (BSF) as an alternative protein source in livestock feed. BSF larvae contain a very high amount of crude protein when compared to other protein sources commonly used in feed formulations. They are cheaper and more sustainable than other such options, using only organic waste as a substrate. Unlike common flies, they do not carry diseases, and so do not enable the spread of contagions. See the photo of Sylivia above.
In September we started a new project in Mozambique in collaboration with the NGO TechnoServe who have been working there for many years. The aim is to map the incubators and other business development support organisations in the northern part of the country (the region of the Islamic insurgency) and to develop action plans to improve impact in terms of economic development and job creation. A Mozambican consulting company has been doing interviews on the ground for us using the Incubator Scorecard that we developed and have tested in several other African countries. All the input is in Portuguese which poses somewhat of a challenge - but Google Translate, and some Portuguese friends, have been a godsend! The project runs through the end of November but we can already see that the challenges for these incubators are very similar to those in the other twelve African countries in which we have worked. These include a lack of clear business models, lack of sustainable funding strategies leading to the design of ad-hoc programmes lack of data on operational impact in terms of #enterprises created, revenues, jobs created etc.
We were asked by the Technical University of Berlin to run a Training of Trainers course in Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness at the University of Dar es Saleem in Tanzania. Steven and John travelled there in late August to deliver the course and the training materials. Although this training was partly successful it was hampered by the lack of agribusiness knowledge of the staff selected for the programme. Furthermore, the participants were very unfamiliar with interactive learning and basic presentation skills. These issues had not been encountered with our other university partners. To resolve this, we will be delivering some virtual sessions later this year on agribusiness and Steven and John will return to Dar es Saleem at the end of January for a follow-up training.
It has been an exciting and very busy few months for us. Our flagship Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course is now in full swing, with 10 university partners from 5 countries across Africa supporting and encouraging the growth of the next generation of Africa’s food entrepreneurs. The course, as you will know, includes 3-months of focused step-by-step learning including a self-led programme hosted online and a weekly in-person workshop facilitated by our amazing university-based colleagues. We have 229 young entrepreneurs currently following the programme and we want to offer our congratulations to Gulu University for being the first university in Cohort 5 to complete their class. The Business Plans that we received from Gulu were of a high standard and we are proud to have awarded a Business Startup Award to Vincente AgroVet Enterprises, a new fresh and dried mushroom business that is operating in the environs of Gulu in the North of Uganda.
In addition, we have reached the halfway point in our webinar series ‘Climate Change and the African Entrepreneur’. If you haven’t had the chance to join us yet, you can view past webinars on our YouTube channel (here) and, if you are interested in learning more about the challenges and opportunities that climate change brings you can still register to join the remainder of the series. The registration link is here.
In May we co-organised with the UN-Food & Agriculture Organisation and other partners, a workshop in Morocco to further build the ecosystem of entrepreneur support in francophone Africa. Participants came from Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia. It was 4 intense days of learning, sharing and building action plans on the national, and the continental, level. The hosts, the Mohamed IV Polytechnic Institute provided a very inspiring location for the workshop due to their well-established entrepreneurial ecosystem and the incredible facilities of this new university.
2023 got off to a very good start and we are looking forward to expanding further the impact of the Agripreneurship Alliance. In 2022 the Alliance made several significant breakthroughs. Most notable among them was the opening of our first African Office based in Kampala, Uganda, and the establishment of a team there. We forged new partnerships with the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD), PBL BioAfrica, and the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN). Our office in Uganda is located at one of CURAD facilities which has received the award of the Best Agribusiness Incubator in Africa (see photo).
259 young people participated in the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course in 5 African countries and completed 47 business plans with some very interesting business ideas, such as animal feed derived from black soldier flies that are fed on organic waste (circular economy). We also delivered for the first time a Training of Trainers Agribusiness Readiness Course in Zambia to 20 participants from 5 universities in Zambia and Kenya. They will implement the training in rural communities, cooperatives, and refugee camps. This year the Alliance will spread our reach further in francophone Africa, having translated the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course from English into French. We are in discussions with 8 new universities in Benin, Zambia, and Zimbabwe who are interested in implementing the programme.
In addition, we are developing the Alliance’s country strategy for Uganda to guide our work and contribute to the country’s development agenda.
Every year sees the Alliance make new strides, and every success is achieved thanks to the work of our dedicated staff and the invaluable support of you, our allies. We believe that this year we can go even further. THANK YOU !
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