Growing agribusiness entrepreneurs in East Africa

by Agripreneurship Alliance
Growing agribusiness entrepreneurs in East Africa

Blended learning Training – Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness
In November we organised the first VIRTUAL Training of Trainers for our partners which was a week-long session using Zoom with group work, team feedback and sharing of experiences. Many of our previous partners: Gulu University, Bishop’s Stuart University, Makerere University Business School, and the Youth Agri-Hub in Uganda, Laikipia University in Kenya and IGAD Sheikh Technical University of Sciences in Somaliland, took the opportunity to train additional staff. The new Universities that participated in the Training are the Jaramogo Oringa Odinga University of Science & Technology in Kenya, Bukalasa University in Uganda with the Marula Creative Consultancy, and Bukavu University in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Several cohorts of students have already started, despite the considerable challenges since many of the Universities are only partially open due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus the trainings are being conducted via a combination of virtual and in-person sessions. The students still have significant issues with access to computers and connectivity, but the Trainers are forging on with much passion and engagement.

On-line Training Course

We are currently planning a training series on “Business Readiness” in terms of business models, markets, bookkeeping, financial modelling and pitching for an extensive network of farmers in Southern Africa. This training would focus particularly on women and be a 10-part series via Zoom with presentations, testimonies, and interactive discussions. We believe this can be a model that can be replicated on a much wider scale and reach smallholder farmers to improve their business acumen. Discussions are also underway with Generation Africa-Go Gettaz to run again the complete on-line training course Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness (that was organised in 2020 for 350 young people from 32 African countries).

United Nations – Food Systems Summit (FSS)

Through our work we the FAO we have been involved in the work leading up to the UN Food Systems Summit to be held in September this year. In November we convened two webinar consultations on Strengthening SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) for Resilient Food Systems. There were over 200 participants in these Consultations from 42 countries. Seven concrete action areas were defined, and work is underway with a group of international organisations and entrepreneurs. One of these actions was to co-convene a FSS Dialogue on Catalysing Finance for Young Food Entrepreneurs. This was already held on February 23rd with strong participation and some clear pathways to address the crucial issue of financing agri-SMEs. A further FSS Dialogue focusing on Catalysing Finance for Women Food Entrepreneurs is planned for April 8th.

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Enhanced on-line Training Course

From July to September 2020 the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course was organised as completely virtual course working with entrepreneurs through the GoGettaz Generation Africa Agripreneur Prize 2020.  Over 300 participants actively followed the course from over 32 African countries.   To enhance engagement and exchange, weekly webinars were held, and a WhatsApp group created which proved to be extremely dynamic. The course closed at the end September and close to 80 business plans were submitted.  They are currently being reviewed by experts and individual feedback will be given to each participant or team.  It was a strong learning experience for us to organise the course virtually and yet provide individual support to the participants across all these countries.  With this support the completion rate was five times higher than the average for an on-line course!

Blended learning Training

The new cohorts are starting in our partner Universities in the coming weeks.  In mid-November we are organising a virtual Training of Trainer session with several new Universities in Uganda and Kenya and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a new country for our activities),

Study on Agribusiness Incubation in Sub-Saharan Africa

The FAO and the African Union commissioned the Agripreneurship Alliance to conduct a comprehensive Study on Agribusiness Incubation. Before the lock-down, trips were made to South Africa, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, and Nigeria to do 'deep dives' on incubators in those countries. From the desk research over 450 organisations were investigate and over 300 mapped for inclusion in a Directory - the first of its kind. As physical workshops are not possible,  the African Union and the FAO decided to organise a series of webinars  3 sub-regional webinars covered Southern, East, West & Central Africa and included  a total of over 600 participants and 20 panellists.  The final webinar is on November 5 and will be cross-regional.  The panel includes the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and other key organisations.  The aim of these webinars is to share the findings thus far and get feedback and validation from stakeholders. The webinars also aim to draft the way forward for a proposed programme to build the network and strengthen the agribusiness incubation and acceleration across the different regions in in Africa. The FAO is very pleased with the work so far and has asked us to extend the Study to North Africa in 2021.

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Happy prize winners @ Bishop's Stuart University
Happy prize winners @ Bishop's Stuart University

Despite all the turmoil created by  COVID-19, 133 students completed the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness training and already submitted 47 business plans.  We are still expecting a few more to come.  The Plans are all reviewed by Experts and individual feedback given to each Team.  Some of the students managed to start their businesses even with the lock-down. Others who already had small businesses applied all the learnings from the Training and adapted their products according to customer needs.  For example, Hillary's business was already selling after-shave products based on lemon and aloe vera but he rapidly turned around and started producing hand sanitisers, disinfectants etc.  The prize money  awarded by the Agripreneurship Alliance allowed Hillary to buy stocks of raw materials and packaging to keep up with the demand for his new products.

The Training of Trainers week-long session which was planned for the end of April in Kampala, Uganda, obviously could not take place.  Instead we organised a series of virtual sessions for our current Trainers to share their experience from teaching the last cohorts of students;  to propose improvements and to allow us to spend time on areas of the training where the students struggle (like the financial aspects). There was also the opportunity to share experience about coping with the COVID crisis.  The sessions were very lively and much appreciated.  We have planned a session in mid-November for  new Trainers from  Universities in Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We hope to travel to do this in person, otherwise it will be organised virtually - Zoom sessions have rapidly become a daily occupation!

We have partnered with Generation Africa (in the context of the GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition) to offer the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Training as a completely on-line course.  It starts on July 8th and will run for 2 months.  As we know that doing on-line courses alone is very challenging, we are holding a weekly webinar on each module with guest speakers, testimonies from young agripreneurs and opportunities for exchange and Q&A. At the end of the Course, each business plan will be reviewed, and individual feedback will be given. So far close to 200 participants have registered.

Thank you so much for your support to the Agripreneurship Alliance.  Every penny is used wisely and, as you can see from the news above, we are forging on in spite of the pandemic!

Keep safe and healthy!


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Ritah during her internship in Germany
Ritah during her internship in Germany

The business plans from the 8 cohorts of students (180) are being submitted to the Agripreneurship Alliance right now.  The winners are being selected and individual feedbackis  being provided by a set of expert reviewers. We expect a total of 50 business plans.

News on the progress of some of the agripreneurs:

Ritah the founder of Oikos White Meat Supplies  has just completed her 3-month internship on two German pig farms.  She learnt a lot about state of the art pig farming and had the opportunity to visit a major agriculture exhibtion.  Now back home in Uganda she is building up the training programme for young employed youth and has decided to open a "pork joint" which are very popular pork restaurants in Uganda.

Steven's wine processing facility was recently commissioned by His Excellency the Dutch Ambassador. Steven is producing wine from pineapple and other fruit and has developed some attractive packaging.

Eunice is now exporting her organic hibiscus tea product to Germany.

Hillary and Pelagia have been accepted into the very competitive Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme which is based in Nigeria.  They will participate in a multi-month training programme with mentorship.  Hillary has developed an innovative lemn after shave product and Pelagia is working with women farmer groups.

Lucy featured as a guest speaker during the members meeting of Generation Africa - a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership. Lucy grew up in the chaotic environment of the LRA in northen Uganda.  Against all the odds she completed her Masters degree at Gulu university, whilst starting up a fresh juice business called JuFresh.  She is also training uneducated youth in Government Youth Livelihood Programme as well as training refugees in the camps in N. Uganda to help them start vegetable businesses.

Opening of Steven's wine processing facility
Opening of Steven's wine processing facility
Eunice's hibscus tea exported to Germany
Eunice's hibscus tea exported to Germany
Pelagia - accepted into the Tony Elumelu Programme
Pelagia - accepted into the Tony Elumelu Programme
Lucy during her Masters graduation
Lucy during her Masters graduation
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The work to grow agriprenurs in East Africa continues to progress very well.  There are currently 183 students participating in the Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness training in 6 locations in Uganda, Kenya and Somaliland.  Most of the courses are drawing to a close soon and we are looking forward to receive about  50 business plans.  We have a team of experienced agribusiness experts who will review the Plans and provide input to the students how they can be further improved.  With their input, we select the winner per location that will be awarded a prize of 1000 USD. 

In October we also launched the course on-line as a Pilot to allow young people to follow it individually.  A further 140 young people are participating on-line, 92% of them being from Africa.  A number of organisations are interested in promoting this course within their networks to bring increased scale of input.  However, we want to incorporate all the learnings from this on-line Pilot (which has no physical trainer) before expanding further.  We know that it is very tough to start a business all on your own without a support network around!

The young people who followed the Training in 2018 are progressing really well. For example, Ritah,our young pig farmer (see photo), who was one of the prize winners in 218, now has 200 pigs.  They multiply very fast under the right conditions and a healthy feed regime!  She is training unemployed youth in the villages around her farm, giving them piglets with the commitment to buy back the pigs once they have grown.  In Uganda there is a big demand for pork that is raised under hygienic conditions with proper care for animal welfare.  Ritah is currently seeking financing to build what will be the second slaughterhouse in Kampala for pigs (a city of 1.7 million people!). Most pigs today are slaughtered with little concern for hygiene.  Ritah was awarded an internship to spend 3 months in Germany on two German pig farms. She is learning a lot, even though the weather is a bit of a challenge right now, after Kampala which is 25°C year-round!

We wish you a very happy Christmas and all the very best for 2020!  A HUGE thank you for all your support that is changing lives and giving new hope to hundreds of young people.

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Organization Information

Agripreneurship Alliance

Location: Montreux - Switzerland
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Agripreneurship Alliance @the_agripreneur
Project Leader:
Anne Roulin
Montreux, Switzerland
$12,423 raised of $40,000 goal
115 donations
$27,577 to go
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