USIU-Africas GAME center receives Kshs. 56M to promote agribusiness entrepreneurship

From right to left: Prof. Francis Wambalaba, Professor of Economics, USIU-Africa, Mr. James Ogolla, Director, Institutional Development, USIU-Africa, Prof. Munyae Mulinge, Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, USIU-Africa, Dr. Kathryn Toure, IDRC Regional Director, David T. Ruchiu, Africa Director - Farm Concern International , Dr. Leah Ndugu, ACIAR Regional Manager, Africa, Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Senior Program Officer at IDRC officially launch phase two of Cultivate Africa (CultiAF). The joint program by the International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC) and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) will be implemented through USIU-Africa’s GAME center. Photo: Antonio Longangi

By Taigu Muchiri

The USIU-Africa Global Agribusiness Management and Entrepreneurship (GAME) Centre has been awarded a grant of KSH 56,886,900 by Cultivate Africa’s Future (CultiAF), a joint program of the International Development Research Center of Canada (IDRC) and the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to implement a project entitled “The Effectiveness of the Metro Agri-Food Living Lab for Gender Inclusive Youth Entrepreneurship Development in Kenya.” The project will be implemented by USIU-Africa through GAME Centre and Busara Center of Behavioral Economics.

It is estimated that 60% of the project will target women in Agribusiness. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, young women agri-business entrepreneurs are less likely to have the resources, knowledge and skills required to start a business in agriculture compared to their male counterparts and thus hinders their productivity levels on a sustainable level. The youth in Kenya face challenges in accessing financing to operationalize their business ideas and this project seeks to mitigate this by working closely with financial institutions that will avail funding for successful projects.

The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza lauded the project and emphasized that food security can only be achieved if we actively engage the youth in agri-business enterprises. He further encouraged institutions of higher learning to engage in partnerships that will foster action based research. “This project is as a result of the success we have achieved in the first phase and we will employ the same working relationship to ensure that we have an equally successful project and reach out to more youth and women in Kenya,” he said. In addition, he encouraged the government, private sector and development partners to invest in the youth and encourage them by providing opportunities that can lead to job creation and reduce unemployment.

The implementation of the project has a unique gender inclusion aspect that is part of ACIAR’s strategic objective. A gender expert will be attached to the participants to mainstream and effectively engage the gender aspect in all the activities of the project. Dr. Leah Ndungu, the Regional Manager at ACIAR said that the project will ensure that it leads to gender empowerment of women and young girls in agribusiness. The project will also focus on innovative solutions to improve food security in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The Metro-Agrifood Living Lab model brings together a unique set of activities and services that create the needed synergy to support not only learning, but also innovation, business development and the co-creation of new knowledge. Speaking during the launch, the Regional Director of the International Development Research Centre Dr. Kathryn Toure said that the youth participating in the program are expected to grow their sales, expand their businesses and improve their livelihoods.

The uniqueness of the Metro Agri-Food Living Lab is its integration of training, mentorship, and financing and action research to improve chances of success. The project will expose trainees to business concept evaluation and development, business planning, marketing and feasibility studies, linkages to finance and marketing channels, strategic advice and legal assistance, specialized technical assistance and development of a business plan to be presented to potential financiers. Successful applicants will be assigned business mentors.

The project will be recruiting trainees from the National and County governments’ agricultural officers and other stakeholders to identify potential agribusiness entrepreneurs that will be invited to apply for the program. Recruitment drives will be conducted in Nairobi, Machakos, Kajiado, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Muranga, Malindi, Kilifi, Tana River, Mombasa, Kakamega, Vihiga, Kisumu, Busia, Nakuru, Bomet, Kericho, Baringo, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, Pokot, and Trans-Nzoia.

It is envisaged that the project will spur youth businesses, especially in the Agricultural sector whose participants are aging, the project will further lead to job creation for the youth, hence addressing the problem of chronic unemployment that has impoverished them and is negatively impacting on the country’s social and economic welfare.

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