The top 30 contestants from the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition will convene in Nairobi on May 27 for the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair. The top 30 contestants were selected from 120 eastern African youth entrepreneurs with startups or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector. All 120 entrepreneurs participated in business training sessions, competitions, pitching skills and presentations. A few of them did this during the Africa Green Revolution Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, made possible by the competition. The top three startups and three SMEs from the remaining 30 contestants will receive a portion of a $20,000 fund allotted for seed capital.
The competitors, aged between 18-35 years, run SMEs or startups 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.
The key objective of the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair is to create an ecosystem of trade, financing and capability support for the 30 startups 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 Mr. James Shikwati, Director, Inter Region Economic Network and Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition Team Leader.
According to Nelly Ngunguru, Sector Analyst, East Africa Trade Investment Hub, “We are proud to support eastern Africa youth to meet financiers and investors, and thereby grow their enterprisers.”
“At Syngenta, we believe in the power of innovation and are glad to be part of this agribusiness competition that brings excitement into the region’s agricultural space and offers unlimited potential for growth to our youth,” added Kinyua Mbijjewe, Head of Corporate Affairs, Africa and Middle East at Syngenta.
Skills gap determine the success of business ventures. “At Toyota Kenya, we are proud to be part of the process of bridging the skills gap among the Young Innovators in Agribusiness,” said Florence Sujji, Manager, Toyota Kenya Academy.
The Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair 2016 will feature Pitch for Funds or Partner Session (Dragons Den); Poster Sessions (Bus Station Pitching), financial services and Product Sourcing Stations; discussions with potential mentors and grant giving organizations. The “investment ecosystem” will broadly include financial institutions, key players in agribusiness value chains, insurers, sourcing agents from retailers and mentors.
Among the exhibitors in the Startups Category, seven are from Kenya, two from Rwanda, four from Tanzania, and there is one from each Uganda and Burundi. The SMEs Category features five Kenyans, three Rwandese, two Tanzanians, three Ugandans and two Ethiopians.
The Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair is 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.
This year’s edition is made possible by the USAID-supported East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Syngenta, Inter-Region Economic Network and Toyota Kenya Academy.
About the partners
The East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub): The Hub is the U.S. Government’s flagship project under the presidential Trade Africa initiative, launched in 2013 to boost trade and investment with and within Africa. The Hub is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The goal of the Hub is to deepen regional integration, increase the competitiveness of select regional agriculture value chains, promote two-way trade with the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and facilitate investment and technology that drives trade growth intra-regionally and to global markets. www.eatradehub.org
Syngenta: Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 28,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life. www.syngenta.com
IREN: The Inter Region Economic Network Ltd (IREN) is a leading independent African think tank that promotes ideas and strategies geared towards causing prosperity in Africa through free enterprise and sound public policy. IREN has managed business competitions and enterprise screening platforms for the last 15 years. It has 3 Key Focus Areas:
Toyota Kenya Academy (TKA) Toyota Tsusho Corporation Group Company -Toyota Kenya Limited opened its human resources training center, Toyota Kenya Academy, on July 16, 2014 at the Toyota Kenya Business Park located three kilometers southeast of Nairobi. Toyota Tsusho operated an automotive training center at Toyota Kenya to nurture its own technical staff. The center expanded and reopened as the Toyota Kenya Academy to provide learning opportunities that develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes of our staff, customers, stakeholders and communities. Toyota Kenya Academy offers courses on automobile & autotronics technology, entrepreneurship, agri-prenuership and agri-mechanization.
Through partnering with various recognized institutions in the provision of skills development, the Academy will achieve its overall objective of being a learning Centre of Excellence within the region in relevant training, and as part of Company’s corporate social responsibility, it will partner with various recognized institutions in the provision of skills development. www.toyotakenyafoundation.org
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