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Gender-inclusive youth entrepreneurship in Kenya

September 12, 2019
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The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) is a ten-year, CA$35 million partnership (AUD$37 million) between IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). CultiAF funds applied research aimed at improving food security, resilience, and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa.

The first phase of this project tested the effectiveness of training and business counselling interventions to support youth-led agribusinesses. The project team worked with 210 youth overall, with 39 completing the 18-month training program and benefiting from the project’s mentoring and funding components. Researchers developed and tested training materials and business counselling guidelines for these young entrepreneurs, linked them with business students, and integrated lessons from the project into a new agribusiness curriculum.

This second phase seeks to expand the scope of the project, while integrating rigorous research design to test the three components (training, mentoring, and funding) of the Metro AgriFood Living Lab’s youth entrepreneurship model.

The challenge

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that agricultural production would need to increase by 70% by 2015 in order to feed the global population. Given that the world’s urban population will surpass the rural population by 2030, an innovative and inclusive approach for agri-entrepreneurs is needed to provide sufficient food resources. Unfortunately, The potential of women and youth is untapped and youth unemployment surpasses that of adults by 25%.

The research

The project seeks to address two fundamental research questions:

  • what works in successfully building youth-led businesses in the agriculture sector?; and
  • what are the benefits of training, mentoring, and providing funding in building successful youth-led businesses?

Other key research areas include addressing gender barriers, opportunities for youth entrepreneurship, and the role of the external environment, including policy. The project’s second phase expands the scope of the first phase by increasing the number of youth trainees from 210 to 1,200 and by expanding the range of agribusinesses beyond poultry and fisheries.

Gender will be integrated throughout the project cycle, from participant selection to outcome evaluation. Youths participating in the program are expected to increase their sales, expand their businesses, and improve their livelihoods. This business growth is expected to benefit an additional 15,000 youth as employees, suppliers, and through peer mentoring. The financing module is also expected to catalyze private investment (debt or equity) into early-stage enterprises by providing cumulative financing of up to KSH 25 million (CA$331,950).

Expected outcomes

• Increase skills and capacity of youths to run and manage their businesses;

• Increase business growth/sales, incomes, and business networks for the 1,200 participants;

• Increase employment opportunities for an additional 15,000 youth;

• Generate important evidence on the value of the training, mentoring, and funding components of the Metro AgriFood Living Lab model in strengthening youth entrepreneurship;

• Generate evidence on gender barriers to youth entrepreneurship and ways to address them.

Learn more about this project.