Are you into agriculture? You can be at any level of the chain, it could be production, value addition, processing, name it. A competition dubbed “Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition” is on and this could be the opportunity to turn your small business around. LinkmeUG caught up with Inter Region Economic Network [IREN] country coordinator Ms. Juliet Naiga about this competition.
LinkmeUG: What is this competition all about?
Juliet: It’s a competition open to youths in East Africa and Ethiopia, Seychelles, Mauritius or Madagascar. It is for youths already in business either as a start-up or small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in the agricultural value chain.
LinkmeUG: What is the criteria for participating in the competition?
Juliet: You must be 18-35 years of age, with a registered business at any level of the agricultural value chain. The business should have a defined business model (beyond idea stage) meaning that it should be in operation for at least 1 year.
LinkmeUG: Some youths have running businesses but they are not registered. Why shouldn’t they participate?
Juliet: That is the problem with many of our businesses, and through this we are encouraging many young people to register them.
LinkmeUG: What is the purpose of this competition?
Juliet: The “Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition” will promote the establishment and strengthening of existing young businesses. It will help promote investment, job creation and productivity in the agribusiness sector.
LinkmeUG: Are you targeting individual youths or youths in groups and CBOs are invited?
Juliet: A registered business can by an individual, or a group but not a Community Based Organisation.
LinkmeUG: How does this competition run?
Juliet: This is the second competition and we plan to have it annually to boost young people doing business in agriculture. It is a 12 month competition process involving training and mentor-ship for the top 120 entries (60 start-ups and 60 SMEs).
LinkmeUG: 120 is a big number; do they all win prizes?
Juliet: The 120 is the number of entries which can be from a business of one or more. Each of these businesses will send a representative to attend training at the Toyota Kenya Academy, Nairobi. They will also participate at the 2015 Africa Green Revolution Forum and the top 30 finalists will participate in the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair conducted by IREN and its partners in May 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. It is from the 30 that top six finalists will be collectively awarded USD 20,000 as seed capital.
LinkmeUG: Any other opportunities for those who don’t win?
Juliet: This is a stepping stone for all participants to other opportunities. In the last competition 10 of the 35 youth finalists, went on to win other prizes in the energy and agribusiness sectors and others have since expanded their enterprises.
LinkmeUG: Deadline and how to apply.
Juliet: Deadline is September 30, 2015 and application is online; submit entry at www.younginnovatorsinagribusiness.com
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