The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) organized a continental workshop on the Empowering Novel Agribusiness-Led Employment (ENABLE Youth) Program in African Agriculture.

The conference took place in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory between the 21st and 22nd of April 2016 and had in attendance about 200 stakeholders including policy makers, entrepreneurs, National Ministries, development partners, the Private Sector, commercial banks, agencies of Central Banks overseeing risk sharing facilities, Pilot Youth Incubation Program, young Agripreneurs and many more.

The objective of the ENABLE Youth Program Design Workshop was to build a well-grounded evidence-based understanding of the ENABLE Youth Program Concept among key stakeholders from interested governments across the continent, development partners, the Private Sector and finance institutions. It also permitted fine-tuning the program design through the incorporation of Africa-wide lessons learnt and best practices. The ENABLE Youth Program is part of strategies by AfDB to draw the next generation to the agriculture sector as ‘Agripreneurs,’ by harnessing new skills and technologies, such as ICTs, mechanizations and a value chain approach to boost food production in Africa and eradicate malnutrition by 2025. Also, young Agripreneurs will be able to create self-sustaining jobs for young people, increase food production for a growing population and initiate less reliance on food imports, and healthy trade balance for African countries.

The main activities of the workshop included; Discussion on the approaches, techniques and modalities for generating youth employment in the agricultural sector; Success stories under the pilot phase of the Youth Incubation Program; Provision of a platform for key speakers to share experiences and lessons learned in mainstreaming youth employment generation into agriculture and other sectors; Leveraging and crowd-in finance – through setting up a risk sharing facility to encourage lending by financial institutions to agribusinesses owned by young people in the ENABLE Youth Program; Identification and design of other innovative financing mechanisms to fund youth in agri-business, including exploring public-private partnership models, developing diaspora bonds to allow remittance flow for investment in agriculture and agribusiness, and mobilization of excess liquidity from commercial banks to service agricultural enterprises; and also encouraging and rewarding synergies between national ENABLE Youth Programs.
Several Countries have expressed keen interest in participating in the ENABLE Youth Program through the submission of requests to work with the Bank in collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), and other partners to design and roll-out country-specific ENABLE youth programs.