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Building African food security champions

WorkshopAfrica is a blessed continent with abundance of arable land, natural resources, cultures, business potentials, investment opportunities and young people who are creative thinkers and professionals across all sectors.

Agriculture in Africa is a goldmine with potentials not fully activated owing to impending challenges such as land tenure, lack of accessibility to finances, lack of youth interest in agriculture which resulted into migration, absence of effective and efficient agricultural policies, lack of access to market, inadequate agricultural data and many more have crippled the sector.

The tides are changing and Africa is regaining its agricultural and economic pride among other regions of the world.  Dr. Akinwumi Adesina in his speech during the 2017 Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank Group, he said that “Africa must rise quickly and unlock the full potential of its agriculture by opening up investment opportunities and making it cool for young people.”

The USAID Feed the Future program commissioned Africa Lead to serve USAID’s primary capacity building program in sub Saharan Africa by working to help realize Feed the Future (FTF) goals of reduced hunger and poverty by building the capacity of African agriculture professionals, institutions and stakeholders to develop, lead and manage the structures needed for the transformation process.

The 5-day Africa Lead’s Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness Development Short Course held at the Dover Hotel Lagos, Nigeria between 17th to 21st July 2017 was organized by AfricaLead under the strong pillar of USAID Feed The Future program in partnership with some foremost youth network – Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative, Pan African Youth Network for Agriculture (PAYNA), LEAPAfrica and African Harvester.

The goals of the short course centered on developing the capacity of young entrepreneurs in agribusiness identification, planning and management to strengthen startups and expanding existing enterprises.

The bootcamp had in attendance forty young vibrant influencers who are contributing to food security in Africa. These young professionals are CEOs, Co-founders, Agribusiness starters, Value Chain Catalyst, Business Developers, Agricultural Consultants, Processors, Market dealers, Agric input dealers and experts in the field of ICT for Agriculture.

How it all started: Understanding the end from the beginning

It was Monday morning and all participants introduced themselves as well as the facilitators for the training. This was immediately followed by pre-survey assessment to identify individual training needs and the possible expectations of participants from the training.

Understanding that capacity building is an integral part of running a successful agribusiness, the days were well planned and executed as follows:

The first day of the training ensured that we familiarized ourselves with our interesting and well-articulated facilitators Mrs. Cecillia Addae from Africa Lead, Mrs. Vicky Udomi (The Cassava Queen of Africa) and one of the foremost John Maxwell Leadership Expert and a Certified Coach - Lillian Adegbola and the master mind behind the training logistic -  John Awua-Kyerematen

The first session of the day was facilitated by Mrs. Cecillia which focused on principles and practices of entrepreneurship. This session used practical explanations, participatory approach and case studies, on-field experience sharing, questions and observations to aid the facilitation.

The second session centered around challenges and business opportunities in selected value chain where Coach Lillian in her dynamic ways of ensuring deeper understanding of the value chain and leaving no one behind, used a role play for cassava value chain with Garri as the end-product. The last session of the day was on developing an agribusiness plan and business canvas model.  A full narrative about the events on the first day can be accessed here

The second day built up momentum, for learning, sharing ideas and working together as a team on group different group tasks. The day started with a recap of previous sessions and thus, a drive to session 4 on how business planning tool can aid success in agribusiness. The day was full of rigorous learning covering session 5, 6 and 7 respectively on the importance of identifying your market; carrying out a market research for selected business and how entrepreneurs can develop a marketing plan

The third day looks bright and participants were energetic to cover the highlighted sessions 8, 9 and 10 on developing a production and operational plan; internal management and labor requirements and importance of good record keeping. The adopted training approach is to have participants give a summary of lessons learnt the previous day to ensure that no one is left behind. This day was one of the most exciting days as each session used participatory approach of learning such as case studies, group assignment and role play. The role play had participants grouped into 3 to display the importance of book keeping for three different case studies. It was an eye opener to several reasons to keeping records in any business. All the three-group performed excellently well with key lessons drawn from the role play and gifts were given to each group.

Often said that each day present the opportunity to learn and experience something new. The activity for the fourth day started with prayer and recap of day 3 activities. Changing the face of the usual facilitators, another dynamic facilitator – Mr. Tunji Abugu a seasoned business management coach and financial analyst took us through session 11 and 12 on financial management and risk management. It was an interesting session as the day ended with the Cassava Queen of Africa on how entrepreneurs can develop an executive summary of a business plan.

The fifth day was indeed the grand finale of the boot camp and we are all dressed in the crested FeedTheFuture shirt – a symbol of our readiness to go out and implement lessons learnt. Despite being the last day for major closing ceremony, our facilitators ensure that we finish the remaining sessions on writing a winning business plan; monitoring and evaluation and a detailed summary of all sessions from first day till the last day. Evaluating the impact of the training, a post-course survey questionnaire was administered to participants for both the training and the facilitators.

It was a well-planned grand finale with media personnel in attendance and representatives from Snygergo International, Sahel Capital, African Harvester and LEAPAfrica who gave goodwill messages on how young people should maximize the opportunities in agriculture and be a champion for change in the agricultural sector. Awards were given to outstanding participants and certificate of participation to all participants.

The 5-day Entrepreneurship and Agribusiness Development Bootcamp was indeed a success and thanks to USAID and Africa Lead. Part of my declaration and host of others from the training is to be committed, learn continuously, develop agribusiness models, awaken the entrepreneurship spirit in African youth, championing change, feeding the world, identifying problems and providing sustainable solutions, ensuring African food security, strive for poverty reduction and maximizing the potentials of African Agriculture to attain Zero Hunger.

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Friday, 29 September 2023

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