Rwandan youth in agribusiness could soon start receiving equity funding following an agreement between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rwanda and JR Farms Limited to develop youth-led agriculture enterprises.
JR Farms is a Rwandan led agri-enterprise operating in Rwanda, Nigeria and Zambia in the areas of food processing and retailing, agro commodity trading and consulting.
The firm’s corporate goals include working to ensure food security, end hunger in Africa and create decent jobs for Africa’s women and young people.
The equity funds are expected to be provided, through JR Farms’ Green Agribusiness Fund (GAF), to selected youth-led agribusinesses involved in different agri-food value chains.
Equity Funding allows start-ups and businesses to access capital for a stake of their businesses.
The project seeks to provide $5,000 equity funding to each beneficiary.
This initiative will promote agribusinesses focusing on priority aspects of agriculture such as post-harvest losses, climate smart farming, urban farming, seed and soil improvement, precision farming, access to market and agro commodity trading and others.
The young agri-preneurs will also benefit from training and capacity development opportunities and will be introduced to wider networks of fellow agri-preneurs.
The support comes amid the covid-19 pandemic effects, with agri-preneurs needing recovery funding.
“The partnership will open up new opportunities for young people in agriculture and agribusiness to create decent work, improve livelihoods and boost food security,” FAO Representative in Rwanda, Gualbert Gbehounou said.
According to Rotimi Opeyemi Olawale, JR Farms Chief Executive Officer, the Green Agribusiness Fund which is a youth-to-youth initiative will play an important role in creating opportunities for youth in agribusiness in Africa.
“The initiative is holistic, it does not only offer funding but other salient support such as capacity building, training and exposure which are necessary for success in agribusiness which will position more young people to engage in agribusiness,” he said.
There are 4,000 youth-led agribusiness enterprises who are members of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum grouped in five clusters of crop production, agro-processing, ICT for agriculture, livestock, inputs and agro-services.
The equity funding will be provided following selection after application under FAO Rwanda and JR Farms Limited agreement.
The funding also includes financial mentorship for beneficiaries in book-keeping, financial management, business valuation and others in order to position beneficiaries for more financing such as loans and grants.
The alliance with JR Farms is one of the outcomes of the Africa Regional Conference on Youth Employment held in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018, and organized by FAO in conjunction with the African Union and the Government of Rwanda.
The partnership is also in line with FAO’s new Strategy for Private Sector Engagement (2021-2025) which promotes more attention to micro, small-and-medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The partnership also contributes to a broader multi-country FAO project in Guatemala, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda that supports countries to adopt more youth-inclusive agri-food system development policies, strategies and programmes.