PARTNER CONTENT: Anzisha Prize
The world’s population growth, coupled with rising income levels in many countries, will provide opportunities for entrepreneurs who can harness the inherent potential of the available arable land on the African continent.
According to a study released by the International Labor Office at the end of last year, titled “The future of work in African agriculture: Trends and drivers of change”, seizing these opportunities could lead to increased employment creation and transform African economies. The study continues to point out that it will require African agriculture to become more inclusive and profitable in order for this to be achieved.
For international investors looking for the next growth opportunity, there has been various research papers released on the topic, including one study from Deloitte in 2017 stating that especially Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania offer lucrative opportunities.
In this year’s group of 20 fellows selected for the African Leadership Academy’s Anzisha Prize (presented in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation), there are four young entrepreneurs (hailing from Uganda, Kenya, Benin and Cameroon) who also firmly believe that the future holds promise for African agripreneurs.
“The rising population in Africa, and the entire world, creates an opportunity for farmers to produce more and increase our income. We have most of the necessary resources like land and fertile soil, which we can utilise to take up market opportunities in the global food industry,” says Kisseka Samson, 22-year-old co-founder and managing director of Hello Mushrooms U Ltd from Uganda.
The Deloitte study paints this picture: “China currently feeds a fifth of the world’s population on a tenth of the arable land and, given expected rising food consumption levels, is likely soon to rely heavily on agricultural imports to meet its national food security needs. Future agricultural growth in Africa is therefore not only expected to be driven by favorable domestic demographics, but also by external factors.”
Samson and the other three entrepreneurs highlighted below, want to capitalise on this opportunity and get their share of the growing local and international markets.
A youth-led Kenyan avocado farm turns into a smallholder agricultural development company
Kevin Kibet, 22, grew up in an urban environment in Kenya, but was drawn to explore entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture in rural Kenya, something that was difficult for his parents to initially accept. “When I told them I wanted to be a farmer, they said: ‘We need to talk”,” Kibet says. After conducting research in the field, he realised that rural youths were disenfranchised from farming and he created an opportunity for these young Kenyans to once again participate in agriculture: Understanding that avocado was fast becoming a highly demanded crop, Kibet recruited young farmers to pilot his idea. They are expecting their first harvest later this year.
Kibet’s company, FarmMoja, gives smallholder farmers inputs, training and access to reliable markets. “We currently employs seven people and guarantees job security to at least 130 farmers,” Kibet says. Since its inception in 2016, the company has distributed inputs to 30 farmers and has 1,000 avocado trees planted on its seven-acre plot of farmland. “By the end of next year (2019) I am hoping to have reached 500 farmers, in three years 1,000 farmers and within the next 12 years a million farmers,” he says of his future goals for the company.
He believes agriculture has the potential to change the trend of urban to rural migration on the continent if the opportunities are unlocked by entrepreneurs and sound government policy.
Transforming smallholder farm produce into packaged convenience foods in Benin
The founder of Africa Foods Mill, 21-year-old Aldred Dogue, realised that small-scale farmers in his home country Benin were incurring losses, as their produce would often not make it to the markets on time. He immediately saw an opportunity and established a company that could capitalise on this gap. Africa Foods Mill has a product line that includes pre-cooked cabbage, carrots and green beans – all sourced in Cotonou and Abomey-Calavi in Benin, and then sold to supermarkets in the area. This has limited post-harvest waste for many farmers, subsequently raising their income. Dogue has been awarded the Best Business Plan Award from the Young People’s Chamber of Commerce in Benin for the successes already achieved through his venture.
Monetising the lucrative and underserved opportunities for mushroom farming in Uganda
Kisseka Samson comes from a poor farming family. He has experienced all the hustles that farmers have to go through in order to make a living. “I don’t know why I always look at agriculture as the next big thing that is going to transform Africa, but I believe that there are a lot of opportunities in this sector,” he says.
Samson created a farming co-operative called Hello Mushrooms U Ltd that supplies inputs to growers, offers free training and provides buy-back facilities in exchange for a commission. The company currently has 15 farmers enlisted as suppliers and the produce is sold to 20 commercial wholesalers, retailers and individual customers.
Samson wants to set up a firm foundation for Hello Mushrooms in Uganda and then build systems that will enable the co-operative to scale the model to the whole of Africa, beginning with East Africa.
Cameroonian tomato and chicken farmer now entering the beauty industry with snail serum
Farmer’s Forte is a company founded and run by 22-year-old Awah Ntseh, who grew up in Douala, Cameroon. The young entrepreneur has always been interested in agriculture and farming. He originally started with tomato crop production and chicken farming in 2015 but had the idea to research the benefits of snail mucin (slime) when a passerby remarked some years ago that she had used this substance to heal a skin problem she had suffered from. Ntseh subsequently added a snail farm to Farmer’s Forte’s portfolio after research showed that the mucin did indeed have various skincare benefits. His company now sells the snail serum alongside a range of other beauty products, including coconut oil, neem and aloe vera.
The 2018 Anzisha fellows have pitched their ventures to the judging panel and the overall winner – in line for prizes valued at US$100,000 – will be announced on the 23rd of October 2018. You can watch the Awards Gala live at anzisha.org.