It’s not a secret. I have shared on this platform before that if I were starting out as a young entrepreneur today, I would go into agriculture. Food is very big business now and looks to be a $1tn market in Africa, in the near future. Market size is only growing. I know there’s a perception in some circles that growing food is “drudgery” to be left behind as quickly as one can escape the rural village for the big city, but hear me out…
The future of food is the future of humanity! What work could be more important than ensuring that our families, nations and the world produce enough healthy and affordable food, and that it is grown efficiently, sustainably and profitably? New “4IR” (Fourth Industrial Revolution) technologies and innovations like digital farming have the potential to make this vision not just possible, but profitable, too!
This is why on 30 May in Johannesburg we at Econet and our founding partner Yara International, formally launched what we call the “Generation Africa” movement. Our vision is that together with partners and stakeholders across many sectors, we can help support Africa’s young#agripreneurs to launch and scale businesses that create new jobs and revolutionize Africa’s agri-food sector…
As some of you recall, we got started in January this year in Davos, Switzerland, where Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether and I had a fireside chat along with amazing young Afripreneurs Ada Osakwe and Rapelang Rabana:https://www.facebook.com/
On 30 May we also jointly launched the GoGettazAgripreneur Prize, a new US$100,000 competition for young African entrepreneurs, and another opportunity for you to raise “prize capital”! Ada Osakwe joined us again at our launch event along with Thato Moagi, an award-winning young agripreneur from South Africa. Here’s a great (4m) video that should tell you what you need to know about Generation Africa and the new competition:https://www.youtube.com/
__Online applications are now open, and will close on 21 July so don’t waste a moment! Find out all the details and apply for the competition onwww.genafrica.org.
In early September, the 12 finalists will take part in a pitch contest at the Africa Green Revolution Forum meeting in Accra, Ghana where two winners will be selected (one man and one woman) to receive $50K each to grow their businesses. All the finalists will get support and mentorship, too. I’ll share a bit more in the days ahead. You can also get the latest updates if you follow the GoGettaz Facebook page. Please share it with your friends!
The arrival of new “4IR” technologies like agricultural drones, robots and automation, make these exciting times for the agri-food sector across the world. Digital farming is the new frontier! If our young entrepreneurs across Africa don’t seize the moment, you can be sure that someone else will. Here’s a link to our Generation Africa Landscape study on Youth Enterprise in Africa’s Agri-food sector in case you missed it:https://genafrica.org/
I want us to leapfrog ahead of the world! Whether we like it or not, from “seed to fork”, things are changing (though in some cases, not fast enough!) This means either great opportunity or crisis. The choice is ours!
Senior class: Take a look at a few of the numbers below and tell me what you “see”:
# In the past five years, agri-food tech startups in Israel raised nearly US$800m in 250+ deals with hundreds more deals in progress.
# In the Netherlands (Holland) another small but highly innovative country, you can find “Food Valley.” Why do they call it Food Valley? Give me one paragraph! Do we have any Food Valleys in Africa? If not, why not?
# In the US (2018), investors poured some US$17bn into agri-food tech such as predictive agriculture, robotics, drones, AI, automation… Some people are saying agri-food tech disruptions are going to be as world-changing as the invention of the Internet! What do you think?
# Investment in the agri-tech sector in Africa is growing too, about 110% in the two years 2016-2017 with Kenya leading the pack of agri-tech start-ups. Nigeria is not too far behind. But in comparison we have a very long way to go.
Another factor to consider: Africa is predicted to double in population to about 2.5bn, of the world’s projected 9.8bn people by 2050. About 41% of Africa’s population today is under the age of 15. Another 19% are between the ages of 15-24! This is Generation Africa! (The African continent also has the highest number of the world’s under-nourished people…)
__Who from which country will win this year’s inaugural GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize? What kind of amazing innovative product, service or business model will make global headlines on 4 September when the two grand prize winners are announced?
Every single one of you on this platform knows something about food. But how much?
Global demand is skyrocketing for more nutritious and affordable foods, produced in healthier and more efficient ways. Innovators… Are you paying attention? Africa has some foods that are available nowhere else in the world. What are we doing with them?
Investors around the world are paying very close attention to the agri-food sector and so must you.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky
Go ahead and give it your best shot!
To be continued. . .
Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Econet Group. He serves on several international boards including Unilever, and the Global Advisory boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Stanford University. A board member of the Rockefeller Foundation for 15 years, he also serves as Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He is a co-founder of the Carbon War Room, Pathways for Prosperity, and the Global Business Coalition on Education. He and his wife, Tsitsi, co-founded the Higherlife Foundation and are signators of the Giving Pledge.View all posts by Strive Masiyiwa