Africa is the world’s fastest growing continent in terms of population and yet, The World Bank, quoted in this article, reports that to feed its growing populace, food production must increase by 60% in the next 15. This is no easy task, yet seemingly many young Africans are up for the challenge.
Nigerian Affiong Williams took the bull by the horns and founded Reelfruit to meet Nigeria’s high demand for fruit snacks, winning a prestigious prize in the Netherlands for her efforts. Williams’s story should spur others on to innovate in the lucrative agricultural sector, but it’s helpful to know what funding opportunities are available, specifically for the “agripreneur.”
What do you want to grow and sell?
Before taking the plunge into the exciting world of agricultural entrepreneurship, it’s important to know what crops or aspect of agriculture to focus on. Even if a crop is in market demand, is it possible to grow in your community? Perhaps the soil quality and climate is not conducive. And, have you considered that it’s best to grow more than one crop to boost soil fertility and reduce pests? Maybe you’re a whizz at app development. What barriers to entry do you face? Biotechnology (the use of genetically-modified seed), while controversial, has helped rural farmers in Burkino Faso achieve 18,2% more cotton. The gist of it is that before you put the cart before the horse and look for funding opportunities, do extensive research. Even if it takes a long time.
For the “ag-techies”
The Acumen Fund is interested in funding individuals who develop technology to solve big issues. For example, the Acumen Fund co-invested $1,5-million in Esoko – a Ghanaian-built technology platform that connects African farmers to markets via their mobile phones.
Improving food security improves your funding opportunities
The pressing challenges posed by climate change, especially for Africa, requires innovative thinking around agriculture. Food security is crucial in avoiding social and economic repercussions and the opportunities are ripe for agripreneurs. The US-based African Development Foundation helps businesses in Africa achieve greater food security, improve income levels, sustain jobs and address human development needs. Yearly, the organisation gives out over $50-million to African entrepreneurs in seed capital. It provides grants of up to $250,000 directly to hard to reach and underserved community enterprises.
Sunday Adelaja’s blog provides excellent links to funding opportunities.
If information resources are scarce in your country, you will have to find a farmer to ask advice from. Usually farmers have at least informal network, or a Farmer’s Co-op where they work together and pool resources. Put together your plan and make it very clear in your mind, because this will it easier to succeed in getting funding.