MasterCard Young Africa Works Summit


May 26th, 2017

Earlier this year I attended the second annual Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda hosted by MasterCard Foundation. The theme of the summit was built around shifting discussion from how to engage youth in agriculture, to youth as drivers of agricultural transformation. The summit explored three sub-themes that contribute to agricultural transformation, gender, technology and climate-smart agriculture.

Almost a third of participants were young people from across the continent of Africa.  They shared their experiences, successes, challenges and innovations in agriculture related businesses. First of all, I was impressed by the confidence displayed by the young people presenting  in front of an international audience and how they challenged some of the ‘norms’.

Key from all the presentations was how technology can act as a huge incentive to attract youth to take up agriculture as a business. Rita Kimani, Co-founder and CEO, FarmDrive uses new data­ driven technology to increase the availability of capital. Her work focuses on leveraging technology to enable smallholder farmers in Africa to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

Alloysius Attah, CEO and Co-founder of Farmerline from Ghana, founded Alloyworld, a photography and video production company, and iCottage Networks, a Web and Mobile startup. Brian Bosire, Founder of UjuziKilimo, an agricultural technology company that brings affordable precision farming to smallholder farmers in Kenya, enabling them to produce more from their farm, curbing hunger and food insecurity. UjuziKilimo uses sensors to analyse soil and farm conditions to provide real-time, precise, actionable recommendations over mobile phones to rural farmers who lack access to extension services and information on weather and markets.

On gender Pilirani Khoza is the Founder of Bunda Female Students Organisation (BUFESO), an organisation that supports disadvantaged university students at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in Malawi. Concerned with the lack of women participating in higher education, she empowers young girls to pursue studies in science and agriculture by helping to fund their tuition and other fees.

My key takeaways from this summit were;

  • Let youth lead development of agri-business by creating an enabling business environment for them to exercise their innovativeness and experimentation
  • Technology plays a very important part in providing incentives for youth to participate in agriculture
  • Government is key to creating an enabling environment for youth-led agri-business to grow (very few African governments are doing this)

Here are some inspiring quotes from the event.

“We are all leaders and the role of leaders is to connect the problem to solutions.”

“Technology is our mother tongue.”

“If you are not in love with a farmer, raise your standards.”

“If you can’t fly you can run, if you can’t run you can walk, if you can’t walk you can crawl, if you can’t crawl whatever you do keep moving!!”

Learn more about the event on the Young Africa Works website http://youngafricaworks.org/resources/

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