Two Kenyans are among six East Africans nominated at an agribusiness innovation competition to attend a three-day business training symposium in Lusaka, Zambia. The Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition attracted a pool of 75 applicants.
Ms Vava Angwenyi of Vava Coffee was identified for linking smallholder coffee farmers to the value chain while Ms Catherine Mbondo was selected for her honey processing and supply venture.
Rwanda’s Pascal Furaha was selected for his chilli production enterprise while his fellow country man Nyiringabo Ignace nominated for assisting farmers to identify and obtain quality seeds.
Uganda will be represented by Mr Noah Ssempijja whose Youth Initiative for Community Empowerment enterprise provides credit facilities and farm inputs to youth and women in the country. Ethiopia’s Abraham Eudria’s project of hiring machinery to farmers got noticed as well.
The overall competition is open until September 30 and targets 120 start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the East African region. The winners winners will be equipped with business skills and enjoy exposure to the regional investor network.
The competition’s team leader Mr James Shikwati added: “The journey of the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition is a continuation from the last year’s Agribiz4Africa-2014 but this year’s competition seeks to expose innovators to training and linkages where 60 start-ups and 60 SMEs will benefit from the Toyota Kenya Academy in Nairobi in the next 12 months.”`
The top 30 finalists will participate in the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair conducted by IREN and its partners in May 2016 at Kigali, Rwanda.
The top six finalists will each receive Sh210,000 seed capital. The forum, sponsored by USAid East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, Syngenta, Inter Region Economic Network and Toyota Kenya, intends to attract investor funds to sustainable enterprises that directly help small scale farmers and young people earn an income through low-cost activities.
EA Hub’s Ms Nelly Nagunguru expressed their commitment to supporting the youth owned enterprises so as to encourage innovations that support food security and job creation.
Syngenta’s head of corporate affairs for Africa and the Middle East, Mr Kinyua M’Mbijjewe, urged more sponsors to come on board saying the middle class population was rising hence creating a demand for food that could be effectively addressed by youth led enterprises.