Profit-making idea: Who is going to be the next African agro-billionaire?

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How we made it in Africa asked Fred Swaniker, founder of African Leadership Group, to identify one untapped business opportunity in Africa. Here was his response:

“One of the greatest untapped business opportunities is literally right under our feet – agribusiness.

“Here’s an interesting fact: every year, Africa spends roughly $40 billion importing food from the rest of the world. Yet, our continent is blessed with an abundance of uncultivated soil and water, and an ideal climate to feed itself and the world.

“As board member of AGRA, an NGO devoted to helping Africa’s smallholder farms to become more productive, I’ve become keenly aware of the role that agribusiness can play in sowing a prosperous and healthy Africa. What’s even more exciting is that this opportunity extends well beyond farming.

“Africa should be seizing the entire value chain of food production. From agri-science and the design of disease-resistant seeds, to agri-tech, agro-processing, agro-logistics and agri-finance.

“As home to the world’s youngest population, Africa has an unprecedented opportunity to unlock the vast economic, social and political benefits of agribusiness. At African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University we have been taking the initiative for several years now to inspire and prepare our students for leadership roles in what is projected to be a $1 trillion industry by 2030. And many of these aspiring entrepreneurs are already making their mark.

“With 10-15 million young, better-educated Africans entering the workforce every year, young people need to see agriculture as a hugely ‘sexy’ opportunity to create wealth, innovation and jobs. So, I ask, ‘Who is going to be the next African agro-billionaire’?

“Agribusiness is one big untapped African opportunity, in my mind.”