On 11th December 2018, ICCO Cooperation organized a ‘Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness’ Conference in Kampala. The conference brought together young agripreneurs, actors and supporters of entrepreneurship and business in agriculture. They discussed challenges and possible solutions on how to bridge the gaps holding back youth innovation and entrepreneurship in agribusiness.
Challenges in agribusiness in Uganda
With a labour market that is severely constrained in opportunities for waged employment, Uganda’s youth are exploring entrepreneurship in agribusiness. But young people face an extremely challenging context including lack of business knowledge and skills, networks, credit records to access to finance and interpersonal skills.
- There is an increasing number of programmes supporting agribusiness startups in Uganda, but the businesses created struggle to be self sustainable and do not create a significant number of incremental jobs;
- There is a limited number of initiatives targeting high-growth potential agribusinesses businesses;
- Most of the agripreneurs in Uganda are capital hungry with very few able to access equity or debt capital;
- Limited number of agripreneurs have access to business mentoring;
- Demand for services such as business plan competitions and pre-incubation services significantly outstrips supply.
“With agriculture employing 70% of Ugandans, there is need to create more employment opportunities and productivity in that sector, especially for the youth”, explains Hélène M. Van der Roest, ICCO Central, Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Manager, “Youth are the future, the future of agriculture, the future of food, and the future of entrepreneurship. If we want a world with zero hunger, it is essential that young people are key partners in their economic empowerment through agriculture.”
ICCO's Regional Manager for Central, Eastern and Southern Africa Hélène van der Roest at the conference
Finding solutions for youth entrepreneurship in agribusiness
The Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness’ Conference brought together different stakeholders in youth entrepreneurship and agribusiness in Uganda, such as representatives from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, representatives from development organizations and agencies, from academic Institutions and of the public and private sector,
civil society, researchers, scholars, and youth.
"Equipping youth for the workforce and the labour market and supporting linkage with the private sector could support Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness" said Anno Galema, 1st Secretary Food Security & Private Sector Development at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Uganda as he was opening the conference.
Panelists discussed challenges and potential solutions for entrepreneurship in agribusiness.
“It is about passion, focus on what you love and what you know, be ready to work hard for it, accept to learn, seek advice and mentorship, and you can always find ways to advance in your business” said Hariet, a young farmer who was supported by the AgriSkills4You (a project coordinated by ICCO and implemented in partnership with ZOA and AVSI from 2013 to 2016).
It was also highlighted that young people need more successful role models in Agriculture to see agriculture as a potential and profitable enterprise. Change mindsets and use technology in agriculture; accurate data and better market research, persistence in the business: “failure is part of the journey of an Entrepreneurial journey, but do we learn from our failures so we can start again? How do we move on?” challenged one of the panelist.
The conference was a networking opportunity for youth, companies and different actors and supporters of agribusiness to link, learn from each other as well as discuss business.
Young agripreneurs were also able to showcase their businesses in a mini exhibition at the conference.
ICCO’s work in Uganda
ICCO works with smallholders, agripreneurs and their organizations, and strengthens small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to realize sustainable agricultural systems. ICCO supports young people to start or grow a business by delivering a range of entrepreneurship support services, from training and mentoring to access to finance and other business development services.
In Uganda, ICCO is currently co-implementing two youth programmes:
- The Agri Business Skilling for Youth in Refugee context (ABSYR). The programme is an innovative approach for youth to improve their social and economic wellbeing through psychosocial and livelihoods support. The project is targeting 5,000 young people in the refugee’s camp and host community in Yumbe district, Northern Uganda.
- The High Flyers programme: starting in January 2019, the program will assure, accelerate and enhance young people’s successful transition from micro enterprises to small businesses and establish a secure pathway to growth from the often precarious, early stages.