T he Youth Agripreneurs Program is pioneered by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with its research for development partners. It reinforces the roles of rural, urban and educated youth within a comprehensive outreach effort across sub-Saharan Africa through support and expansion of Youth Agripreneur Groups. IITA first initiated a pilot project in Nigeria in 2012 to empower underemployed university graduates and steer them towards careers in market-oriented agriculture and agribusiness. Since then, IITA initiated similar activities in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This approach is experiential, where clusters of youth are provided resources and expertise to explore options for income generation, and then develop business plans and enterprises around the most promising options.
Youth Agripreneurs liaise with other youth groups and solicit their involvement as potential outgrowers and satellite agribusinesses. As Agripreneurs develop expertise in various business operations, they are encouraged and assisted to develop detailed business plans and loan applications for submission to commercial lenders. Departure packages may be arranged for the most promising of these ventures to assist in start-ups and improve their creditworthiness, depending upon the availability of funds. These spin-off agribusinesses generate employment and also link to out-growers and markets forged by the Youth Agripreneurs, stimulating positive feedback within the larger farming community.