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Not just classroom entrepreneurs: Meet the winners of the Agripreneurship Alliance business plan contest

Photo by Steven Carr, Agripreneurship Alliance. ©

Many farmers have excellent produce. However, that is not enough.

In a world steered by the market powers small-scale farmers have little chance to succeed without running their farms as a business. One of SIANI Expert Groups lead by the Agripreneurship Alliance is working to address this problem by implementing a training course Entrepreneurship in Agri-Business and through a business plan contest.  

This training takes budding agripreneurs through all the steps necessary to build a solid business plan to turn their agri-business ideas into reality.  It is applicable to businesses right across the agri-food value chain from primary food production, through processing, packaging and route to market.

The course is based on a ‘blended’ learning approach with 10 modules that utilise the strengths of face to face experiential learning with access to a standardized quality curriculum and aligned resources, learning materials and tools via an online learning platform.

Five Universities and Institutes in East Africa volunteered to pilot the programme and the first ”Train the Trainer” session was organised in Nairobi in March 2018.  A total of 10 trainers participated from Egerton & Laikipia Universities in Kenya, Gulu University and the IITA Youth Agri Hub in Uganda, as well as the IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School in Somaliland.

From May to October 2018, the trainers from these Universities & Institutes rolled out the course.  Initially recruiting 87 young people, 76 of whom completed the course and working individually, or in teams, submitted 34 business plans into a competition with a cash start-up award of US$1,000 for the best business plan per location. The business plans spanned across primary food production and processing with a wide variety of products. To the delight of the Expert Group leaders, the winning teams by majority were led by young women.

Meet the winners!

FreshFarm Mushroom (Laikipia University, Kenya)

The ‘FreshFarm Mushroom’ team completed the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course at Laikipia University, Kenya, in November 2018 and have been awarded the Agripreneurship Alliance Business Plan Prize (US$1,000) for having and describing the best business idea in their cohort. The team, drawn from a number of academic disciplines, have identified the opportunities in the local market to produce and supply quality mushrooms using high density organic approaches.  Their business will launch in mid-2019 close to Nairobi where they can produce foodstuffs for local consumption and in the future they will explore the potential for production for export in additional to local sales. They will use the next few months to complete their studies and raise the additional capital that they require the business supported by a mentor from the Agripreneurship Alliance. The FreshFarm Mushroom team are:

  • David Muiruri Nyambura
  • Risper Akhwale
  • Vivian Chebet
  • Nelius Maina

Barani Aqua (Egerton University, Kenya)

The ‘Barani Aqua’ team completed the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course at Egerton University, in November 2018 and have been awarded the Agripreneurship Alliance Business Plan Prize of US$1,000 for having and describing the best business idea in their cohort.  The team have identified through their participation in the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agriculture’ course that there is a significant local demand for fresh water fish as a traditional part of local diets.  Over-fishing in local lakes has had a dramatic impact on the eco-system and government has recently restricted the amount of fish that can be imported into the country.  In 2019 Barani Aqua will establish an above-ground Tilapia fish farm that can provide high-quality fish for local consumption using renewable energy to provide power for lighting and pumps/filtration system. The Barani Aqua team are:

  • Fahad Juma Luttah
  •  Bilha Jebitok
  •  Joyce Kerebi

JuFresh Enterprise (Gulu University, Uganda)

The ‘JuFresh Enterprise’ team completed the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course at Gulu University, Uganda, in October 2018 and have been awarded the Agripreneurship Alliance Business Plan Prize (US$1,000) for having and describing the best business idea in their cohort.  JuFresh want to promote consumption of high quality, nutritious fruit juices rather than high-sugar carbonated drinks. They have launched their business, initially focusing on sales within the Gulu University campus, focusing on students, faculties and businesses that are based there.  While initially accessing raw fruit from local market, their intention in 2019 is to start developing a supply chain engaging with directly with local farmers, ensuring a supply of high quality fruits for their business and providing consistent revenue stream for small-holder farmers. The JuFresh Enterprise team are:

  • Lucy Aciro
  • Herbert Amolo
  • Jemima Alla Houessou
  • Robine Okello
  • Henry Omara

Nusha Tomato

IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary Training School (ISTVS) works in the mountains high above the coastal plain in Somaliland. Sheikh is a small town that is surrounded by agro-pastoralist communities, with most farming focusing on raising livestock, mainly camels and goats. After completing the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness’ course, four students realised that there is a significant opportunity for a small business to be launched, growing (using dryland technologies such as drip irrigation) and selling fresh tomatoes that can supply the local market, where tomatoes are an essential part of the local diet but currently have to be imported from Ethiopia and Somalia. Nusha Tomato Farm presented their completed business plan to the Agripreneurship Alliance and we are pleased to announce that they have been awarded US$1,000 to launch their new business and we look forward to supporting their business grow through 2019. The Nusha Tomato team are:

  • Ahmed Nura Adam
  • Hirsi Shola Abdilahi
  • Mohamed Hassan Mohamoud
  • Ali Amina Abdi

Oitkos Enterprise (IITA Youth Agri-Hub, Uganda)

We are delighted that Ritah of Oikos Youth Enterprises is the Youth Agri-Hub winner of the Agripreneurship Alliance ‘Business Plan’ competition. Ritah and her colleagues have completed the ‘Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness’ course and all demonstrated great passion for the growth of their business ideas. It is amazing people like Ritah and the members of the Youth Agri-Hub who will change Africa. Oitkos is an existing small scale processor of pork. Having established an effective supply chain in her village working with small-holder farmers, Ritah wants to grow her business, finding new facilities and producing pork of high quality, processed humanely and hygienically to sale to hotels and restaurants.