Six youth from East Africa countries have been feted for the regional incubation programme dubbed Youth for Agribusiness.
The six are; Abrhame Endrias of Green Agro Mechanization Ethiopia, Murindahabi Edmond of PEBEC Ltd Rwanda, Anzazi Kiti of Taste Afrique Ltd Kenya, Noah Ssempija of YICE Uganda, Mercy Kitomari of Nelwa’s Gelato Tanzania and Uwintwali Lilian of M-AHWIII Ltd Rwanda.
The six were selected from 120 eastern African youth entrepreneurs with start-ups or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector. The 120 entrepreneurs participated in business training sessions, competitions, pitching skills and presentations. The top three start-ups and three SMEs from the remaining 30 contestants received a portion of a $20,000 fund allotted for seed capital.
The competitors, aged between 18-35 years, run SMEs or start-ups that address needs arising from various agricultural value chains in their respective countries. They specialize in processing, finance, software and apps development, agro-mechanization, packaging and export services.
Speaking during the award ceremony, James Shikwati, a director at Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), said the key objective of the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair is to create an ecosystem of trade, financing and capability support for the 30 start-ups and SMEs.
“Our main goal is to offer our young innovators an opportunity to scale up agribusiness activities through training initiatives with a view of stimulating enterprises that are investible, sustainable, competitive and ready to play an active role in the larger East African market,” said Shikwati, who is also the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition team leader.
Speaking during the same function, Nelly Ngunguru, a sector analyst at the East Africa Trade Investment Hub, said there is need to empower the African youth with mentorship and also capital to enable them to be self-employed.
The Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair was the final journey of the Young Innovators in Agribusiness competition which began in 2014 through an agribusiness competition that attracted over 800 participants from sub-Saharan Africa as well as the participation of Young Innovators in Agribusiness at the 2015 Africa Green Revolution Forum in Zambia and Arusha at the beginning of the year. The programme is supported by the USAID-supported East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Syngenta, Inter-Region Economic Network and Toyota Kenya Academy.