Over 10 million young Africans join the labour force every year — yet 60% are left unemployed. The lack of well-paid, meaningful jobs is a tragic squandering of human potential and presents a grave threat to the continent's stability and development trajectory. Much of Africa's youth views the agricultural sector as unattractive and seek a future livelihood away from the drudgery of subsistence farming. Yet modernisation of the sector offers the some of the best opportunity for new employment, with scope for innovation and new businesses emerging across the value chain, from farm to fork.
Young entrepreneurs could form the vanguard for job creation, and they could further inspire others to grow and modernise the sector. Additionally, investors, donors and the private sector are hungry for a pipeline of growing agribusinesses in Africa that can both create commercial value and increase development impact. Benefits of inclusive growth within the agri-food system include: a counter-trend to rural-urban migration; provision of affordable, healthy food to urban consumers; reduced food import bills; more diverse, resilient, rural livelihoods; and the professionalisation of farming.
A new generation of agri-preneurs is needed, yet they must find how to succeed in a context not conducive to entrepreneurship, with few support structures such as accelerators, limited seed capital, a weak education system and all the inherent risk facing agribusinesses in Africa. The challenge: How might we strengthen the ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in Africa's agri-food sector, both to increase job security and satisfaction and to increase local agricultural value addition?