Telecommunications giant Econet Group, in conjunction with global crop nutrition leader YARA International ASA, have launched the Generation Africa Initiative that aims to inspire young African entrepreneurs to join the agri-food sector for its viable business opportunities.
The partnership initiative will support a cohort of 12 budding young agri-food entrepreneurs to scale and prosper their ventures.
Generation Africa is expected to reach thousands of young entrepreneurs through its “GoGettaz” competition, which will award US$100,000 in prize money to two exceptional business ventures in the agri-food sector.
The initiative will allow Africa to enjoy food self-sufficiency and reduce the continent’s dependence on food imports.
Africa has about 600 million hectares of arable land, yet it imports food for US$35 billion a year — a figure that is estimated to rise to US$100 billion by 2025.
At the same time, over 60 percent of young people across Africa are unemployed. In light of this, innovative entrepreneurship could retain more value on the continent, helping to counterbalance rural-urban migration, professionalise farming, generate employment and provide affordable, healthy food to Africa’s growing population.
“Africa is full of entrepreneurs. We have more entrepreneurs than any other continent. But where the average age of an entrepreneur is 19, the average age of a farmer is 60! The time is now for Africa’s entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and embrace the incredible opportunities that agri-food businesses offer. If we do not, someone else will,” said Econet group founder and chairman Strive Masiyiwa.
Beyond the “GoGettaz” competition, Generation Africa’s ambition is to inspire at least one million young people to consider the agri-food sector as a viable and profitable business opportunity.
This can only be achieved through close collaboration with stakeholders across the continent to develop the entire ecosystem to support young entrepreneurs.
“Africa’s agri-food sector presents a US$1 trillion business opportunity by 2030, especially when connected with the current technology revolution. Across Africa’s agri-food chain, innovations can be found in how we grow, harvest, process, store, transport, package, sell and consume food.
“Together with the pioneers of Africa’s next generation, we want to seize these opportunities. Generation Africa will help youth entrepreneurs launch, grow and mature agri-food businesses that will drive job creation, inclusive growth, and better food supply,” said Yara president and chief executive officer Svein Tore Holsether.
Generation Africa’s vision is to strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector across the continent, allowing them to unlock this untapped potential.