The future is rural

Young African entrepreneurs gave their generation a vocie during the G-20 conference in Berlin. "World Without Hunger" asked six of them, how more jobs can be created in rural areas.

(c) Simon Veith
Workshop "Rural Future Lab" (c) Simon Veith

Lunah Njeri is the national sales and marketing manager of Bell Industries Ltd., a company that specialises in the manufacture, import and sale of agricultural supplies for the Kenyan market. In 2014, she headed up the rollout of airtight PICS bags to Kenya. PICS bags prevent seeds from rotting and keep them safe from pests during storage. Lunah is tasked with training smallholders to use these bags and with establishing a nationwide distribution network. She is determined to transform Kenyan society from mere consumers to technology-adept producers that invest regionally, thus strengthening the local economy. A farmer herself, Lunah runs Dudu Farm where she breeds worms as chicken feed, which she used to supply to local poultry farms. Today, however, Dudu Farm no longer operates in the business-to-business market but exclusively in the business-to-consumer market.

 

For the near future, Nana Adjoa Sifa Amponsah dreams of a society 23in which young female farmers in particular are proud of their job. She believes that agribusiness is the only economic sector that can address the most pressing problems worldwide, such as unemployment, food insecurity, poverty, hunger and malnutrition. To help this dream become reality, this young Ghanaian initiated Guzakuza – a regional, social enterprise committed to raising awareness of sustainable farming. In particular, Nana wants to address African women in order to strengthen the local economy and ensure healthy nutrition and productive agriculture. Guzakuza, which in Swahili means ‘grow to touch lives’, offers skills training, internship, coaching, mentoring and counselling and organises cooperation. Nana is currently working as team leader and has four full-time employees, two parttime employees and ten voluntary staff. In addition, she is active as president of the Direct Impact Foundation which aims to close the gap between rural and urban education in Ghana. In the past, this 28-year-old Ghanaian has also gathered experience through internships at several international organisations and companies. She is a member of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development and is active on the World Pulse platform and in the Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs. Nana is also a “Global Shaper” of the world ecomomic forum, as well as British Councils’ Active Citizen, a fellow at the New York University’s GWSLP and participant of “Kanthari international”. For the future, she would especially like to see more initiatives for women and young people in rural Ghana.

 

Paul Zaake is the cofounder and executive director of RECO, a community-based organisation that promotes sustainable agriculture, climate change action and environmental conservation. Funded through donations, training, sales, private-sector contributions and various other sources, RECO focuses on social entrepreneurship. As part of the programme, Paul founded a juice processing and packaging factory with five full-time and four part-time employees. This year, he extended his business by launching an initiative for the solar-powered production of dried fruits destined for the local market and for export, too. Through his work, Paul catalyses the potential hidden in his community and provides basic and further training to enable his peers to farm their country more sustainably. More than 75 young adults have already undergone special valueadded training based on locally sourced materials. Paul Zaacke grew up in rural Rakai and holds a BSc degree in agriculture. At present, he is studying the MA in Climate Change and Adaptation at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Paul regularly visits his homeland and is determined to continue improving his projects there.

 

Halatou Dem is the managing director of Danaya Céréales, a grain-processing family business that specialises in fonio. Fonio is a type of millet that is highly resilient and can thus reach maturity very quickly even on barren land. Halatou joined her mother’s company in 2009, taking over management of the business in 2011. Still very much part of the company’s philosophy today is the inceptive idea of helping women – who are typically responsible for processing grain in the home – while making money in the process. Precooked fonio remains Danaya Céréales’ main product, with up to 1,000 metric tons processed each year for the domestic market, and increasingly for the international market, too. International demand is fuelled by Malians living abroad who wish to continue enjoying the products of their homeland. Halatou prefers to employ women, a target group whose working and living conditions she aims to advance with her business policy.

 

Luwayo Biswick describes himself as a passionate farmer. He has his own plot of land near Lilongwe the capital of Malawi situated at the heart of the southeast African country where he demonstrates on how to grow all sorts of crops without using synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. He is able to grow enough and surplus for sell. Luwayo grew up in poverty. Until he was 17 years old, he lived at tobacco farms where his parents worked as tobacco farmers. In his childhood, he and his family often suffered hunger. In 2009 he discovered permaculture through a friend and this was his turning point. Luwayo decided to take action against rural poverty and the famine in his country. Besides working as a farmer, the young agribusiness specialist is employed by the Kusamala Institute of Agriculture & Ecology as permaculture trainer. Permaculture is an approach based on sustainable, endurable, natural cycles. By cultivating self-sufficient gardens, food can be produced in a particularly sustainable manner. Locally, Luwayo is recognised as a community leader as this agriculturalist has successfully found a way to rise above his difficult childhood and build his self-confidence. The 30-year-old farmer is highly motivated to expand his knowledge further in order to open up new opportunities for young farmers in Malawi. He finds the apathy of many people in his country particularly frustrating and is therefore keen to find new ways of inspiring young people around him. Luwayo believes there is no limitation to the abundance of yields one would get from the planet being it rural or urban but what limits us is the capacity of our imagination.

 

Samadi Ruterford has a small five-hectare agropastoral farm in the north of Benin. Agropastoralism describes a traditional form of farming that combines pastoralism (livestock raising on natural meadows) and crop cultivation. As founder of AgriSam, Samadi specialises in the local production and sale of feed for poultry, fish and small ruminants. Also, AgriSam is an incubation centre for small businesses and young farmers. They are specialised in teaching and accompanying young agriculturalists in the local region. Furthermore, Samadi works as a farmer and keeps pigs, fish, poultry, cows, rabbits and geese himself. Samadi mainly produces rice, soy and maize. He is one of few farmers in northern Benin that can run their farming business without state support. In addition to agriculture, he also operates a startup centre for young agri-entrepreneurs. Dedicated, determined and with considerable entrepreneurial elan, his goal is to use AgriSam to end rural poverty in Benin. His plan: to create new jobs and promote young entrepreneurs in rural Benin.

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