Econet Wireless and global crop nutrition firm, Yara International, have launched “Generation Africa”, a partnership initiative to inspire young African entrepreneurs to join the agri-food sector for its viable business opportunities.
Generation Africa will reach thousands of young people 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 support a cohort of 12 budding young agri-food entrepreneurs to scale and prosper their ventures.
“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,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara.
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% of young people across Africa are unemployed. Innovative entrepreneurship could retain more value on the continent, helping to counterbalance rural-urban migration, professionalize 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.” says Econet’s founder and chairman Strive Masiyiwa.
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.
Generation Africa’s GoGettaz competition is open to young agri-food entrepreneurs aged 18-35 from across Africa. Budding ventures can be submitted to the competition online by July 15, 2019. Twelve finalists will be selected by an expert jury to pitch live at the African Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana on September 3 – 6, 2019. Two winners (one man and one woman) will each win US $50,000 to grow their businesses with guidance from Generation Africa.
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. This is Africa’s Generation, concludes Masiyiwa, “Never has there been a more powerful moment in history – nor a more digitally-capable generation – to leapfrog Africa’s agri-food sector from a net importer of food to feeding the planet.”
Yara, founded in 1905 to solve the emerging famine in Europe, has a worldwide presence with about 17,000 employees and operations in over 60 countries.
Econet Global has operations and investments in mobile and fibre broadband telecoms, cloud services and data storage, fintech, edutech, e-commerce, tech-enabled on-demand services and solar power to individual and enterprise customers across Africa.