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The 3rd African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF) Conference and AgriPitch Competition will be held in Cape town, South Africa from 24th – 28th...

The 3rd AYAF Conference & AgriPitch Competition

The 3rd African Youth Agripreneur Forum (AYAF) Conference and AgriPitch Competition will be held in Cape town, South Africa from 24th – 28th June 2019 under the theme “Climate Smart Agriculture: Business and Employment Opportunities for Africa’s Youth”. This year the AYAF will be held in partnership with Western Cape Government.

This is an annual event of the African Development Bank’s Enable Youth Program and is expected to attract over 200 participants from across the continent including youth agripreneurs, agribusiness companies, investors, environmentalists, academia, development partners and government agencies.

It includes a three-day boot camp (24th – 26th June) where some pre-selected agripreneurs receive training on business models, marketing, the innovation development process, business financing, etc. by coaches and mentors. The agripreneurs finally pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and impact investors. The event also includes a two-day Conference (27th – 28th June) which provides a platform for the youth agripreneurs and key stakeholders to discuss topical/thematic issues affecting youth employment with experts, business leaders, investors and policy makers. The event will also include a number of Master Classes to equip the agripreneurs with concrete agribusiness skills.
AgriPitch Competition: 24th – 26th June

AYAF Conference:  27th – 28th June

Background and Context

Africa has the largest population of young people in the world. According to the African Union, 60% of the population is below the age of 35 and there are 420 million youth aged 15-35 in Africa. This youth population is expected to continue growing for the next 20-30 years. About 70% of youth in Africa reside in rural areas and are employed primarily in the agriculture sector, where they account for 65% of the workforce.

The majority of youth in Africa do not have stable economic opportunities. Youth are two to three times more likely than adults to be unemployed and the majority of the working youth are poor and employed in vulnerable, low quality jobs, in the informal sector. There are approximately 11-12 million youth entering the labour force every year in Africa – whereas only 3 million jobs are created annually, leaving a shortfall of 8-9 million youth without formal jobs. Lack of good jobs for the youth has become a major political concern and can be seriously destabilizing to the society.

While the agriculture sector offers significant employment and economic growth opportunities, lack of access to land, finance, markets, technologies and practical skills are major stumbling blocks to youth participation. Recent research indicates that as African economies transform, there are expanding opportunities for youth employment and entrepreneurship throughout high-potential value chains where consumer demand is increasing. However, major efforts are needed to provide young Africans with new technologies and innovations that will allow them to transition from subsistence agriculture into more commercial and higher-paying work.

Globally, there is a shift towards responsible ways of conducting agricultural practices to avoid negative climate and environmental impacts and to reverse and mitigate the negative effects of human activities. There is also an increasing need to optimize the scarce natural resources and inputs for agricultural production and the much-needed transformation.

Climate change trends are important drivers for transformation needs. According to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture accounts for approximately 14% of greenhouse gas emissions. This figure increases to 25 percent when forestry and other land use is included[1]. Major drivers of this problem are deforestation, soil and nutrient management, and livestock emissions. In general, agriculture is the sector most susceptible to changes in climate patterns because of its dependence on the environment.

Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) includes practices and technologies that sustainably increase productivity, support farmers’ adaptation to climate change and reduce levels of greenhouse gases. Many CSA approaches are designed to rehabilitate degraded land and build resilience to climate, pest, price, and other shocks. Yet they remain largely unknown at the continental, or even regional and national levels.

Agriculture has to address simultaneously three intertwined challenges: ensuring food security through increased productivity and income, adapting to climate change and contributing to climate change mitigation (FAO 2010). In achieving the African Transformation Agenda sustainability goals, there is need to increase the use of climate-smart agriculture (CSA). For youth in the agriculture sector, CSA offers opportunities for greater job opportunities, increased income together with greater resilience and climate change mitigation.

There is need to clearly understand the barriers that impede youth agripreneurs in Africa from adopting CSA practices and to develop policies that provide strong incentives for youth to adopt and promote CSA practices. CSA activities should be made attractive and accessible to the youth, with adequate incentives and an outlook of business success.

Under the Feed Africa Strategy and the Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, the African Development Bank is implementing the Enable Youth Program to demonstrate that with greater access to agribusiness enterprise youth can become the driving force of agricultural transformation in Africa. To date, the African Development Bank has committed over USD 350 million to Enable Youth investments on the continent. With the right skills, technologies and improved access to finance, young African men and women can become the proud owners of profitable agribusiness enterprises.

Objectives and Outcomes
Enhance the investment readiness of agripreneurs through an intensive bootcamp training and ensure they are pitch ready for investors;
Showcase to investors, capital expansion ready youth-led businesses focused on CSA, with the aim of raising the profile of these businesses and facilitating their access to financing (debt, equity, and/or grant);
Promote the business case for responsible agriculture and entrepreneurship within the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation to a growing force of young entrepreneurs ;
Create youth business linkages through networking and collaboration with potential investors, off-takers and development organizations;
Sustain the growing network of agripreneurs as a platform for interaction, mentorship, training and business development;
Promote best practice ideas of agripreneurs on climate smart businesses in order to scale-up across the continent (transfer of technology and skills);
Showcase the ingenuity of young African agripreneurs to compete globally, while motivating other African youth to aspire and seize opportunities in agribusiness.
Key Issues and Questions

What are the key challenges and barriers facing young African agripreneurs to integrate climate smart practices in their businesses?
What are the current technology and innovation trends and how are youth agripreneurs leveraging them to give their businesses a competitive edge?
What are the various channels of accessing finance and technical support tailored specifically for youth engaging in CSA agribusiness?
What do youth integrating climate smart activities have over others who do not incorporate CSA practices? Are they competitive?
Targeted Participants

Young African graduates and/or entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector;
Young agripreneurs already running agribusinesses with experiences to share;
Private sector leaders providing services in the agriculture sector (insurance, environment and climate, logistics, financial institutions, ICTs, etc.);
Development partners promoting CSA and youth employment in the agriculture sector;
Investors seeking business opportunities;
Decision makers and other policy actors from government, civil society and international organizations.

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