USIU-Africa has won a competitive grant to upscale its training in agri-business. Using an inventive model dubbed The Metro-Agribusiness Living Lab, the University will combine experiential agri-business training with action research to determine factors that impact most on youth training. Beginning this month, the 24-month project will target 300 young people from 24 counties in Kenya, and have a strong focus on gender inclusivity, sustainable agri-business and ethical behaviour, given that the majority of those engaged in agriculture are aged between 50 and 65 years, and practice unsustainable subsistence farming.
Funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), the project exposes participants to cutting edge agri-business practices, provides business coaching and connects participants to financial sources. The project head Prof. Francis Wambalaba (Professor of Economics) described the program as “…the most comprehensive measure to close loopholes experienced by other entrepreneurial trainings.” He expressed optimism that the project will in addition to impacting 300 youths directly, will also affect an additional 15,000 through network marketing, indirect employment and access to over KES 25 million in business funding.
The project will be implemented at the USIU-Africa’s Global Agri-business Management Enterprise (GAME) Center where the initial idea was conceptualized and piloted in 2016 under the leadership of the Project Manager Ms. Salome Asena. Stressing the success of the pilot project, Ms. Asena disclosed that 90% of the youths who were trained launched their personal businesses; 60% of them being female entrepreneurs implying that the model has the potential to enhance business startups, and that women can outperform men if provided with equal opportunity.
Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension and Professor of Finance Prof. Amos Njuguna, hailed the project as the second innovative model developed by the GAME Center, after the initial partner-agent model saw 39 USIU-Africa students support agri-business entrepreneurs in Nyandarua County, to design and implement financial systems and connect them to markets and suppliers of high quality farm inputs.
To join the program, participants will have to be aged 18-35, be Kenyan citizens, fluent in English and have at least O-level certification. 60% of the participants will also have to be female entrepreneurs.
Other USIU-Africa staff who contributed to the development of the project included; Prof. Njuguna (as finance expert), Assistant Professor of Project Management and Implementation Dr. Paul Wachana (a technical advisor) and Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship Dr. Damary Sikalieh (as gender specialist).