Pan African University USIU Africa has won a competitive grant which will go towards up scaling its training in agribusiness. Using an inventive model dubbed The Metro-Agribusiness Living Lab, the University will combine experiential agri-business training with action research. These will be used to determine factors that impact most on youth training.
The 24-month project which began earlier on this month is set to target 300 young people from 24 counties in Kenya. According to media reports, the project will have a strong focus on gender inclusivity, sustainable agri-business and ethical behavior. This is given that the majority of those engaged in agriculture are aged between 50 and 65 years, and practice unsustainable subsistence farming.
Jointly funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the project exposes participants to cutting-edge agri-business practices, provides business coaching and connects participants to financial sources. In the words of the project head Prof. Francis Wambalaba (Professor of Economics), the project is the most comprehensive measure to close loopholes experienced by other entrepreneurial training. He also expressed optimism that the project, in addition to impacting 300 youths directly, will also affect an additional 15,000 through network marketing, indirect employment and access to over US $247,598 in business funding.
The project will be implemented at the USIU-Africa’s Global Agri-business Management Enterprise (GAME) Center where the initial idea was conceptualized and piloted in 2016 under the leadership of the Project Manager Ms. Salome Asena. Stressing the success of the pilot project, Ms. Asena disclosed that 90% of the youths who were trained launched their personal businesses; 60% of them being female entrepreneurs. This is through the implication that the model has the potential to enhance business startups. It also suggests that women can outperform men when provided with equal opportunity.
Other facilitators in support of the initiative include Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Research and Extension and Professor of Finance Prof. Amos Njuguna. The Dean hailed the project as the second innovative model developed by the GAME Center. This is following the initial partner-agent model that saw 39 USIU-Africa students support agri-business entrepreneurs in Nyandarua County. These went on to design and implement financial systems and connect them to markets and suppliers of high-quality farm inputs.
To join the program, participants will have to be aged 18-35, be Kenyan citizens, fluent in English and have at least O-level certification. 60% of the participants will also have to be female entrepreneurs.