Sub-saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world with youth under the age of 30 accounting for 70% of the population. Given the size of the demographics, there has been much conversation about the need for strategic investment in opportunities for youth across sectors, including agriculture, in order for the world to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Particularly in Africa, youth will be a driving force for economic development, improving food security, and strengthening global food systems for the future of their communities.
At Bountifield, we have emphasized the importance of investing in opportunities for youth time and time again. As such, many of the entrepreneurs that we work with are under 35. They have shown an eagerness to embrace the business model we’ve developed, and invest the time and effort growing their crop processing service offerings.
Mentoring and Partnerships
In 2023, we introduced a new piece of technology: a chopper shredder. Unlike our other technologies that are tied to the harvest season, the chopper shredder can be used throughout the year as a way of producing animal feed for cows and pigs. The chopper shredder can break down various crops such as sorghum stalks or napier grass so farmers can have nutritious fodder for their livestock.
Youth entrepreneur Sebastian, owner of Teke Teke Enterprises, was one of our first entrepreneurs to acquire a chopper shredder. He immediately began providing services to his farmers processing their left-over grasses to create animal feed. Over time, Sebastian began to see another opportunity in not only providing processing services to farmers, but to also produce and sell his own animal feed. Sebastian began buying crop residues that he could use to create this value-added product and then sell to other farmers in his community.
Seeing the success of Sebastian’s business, Bernard, a young entrepreneur and owner of Bernoch Enterprise, was inspired to get a chopper shredder of his own. Having gotten to know Sebastian through Bountifield’s network of entrepreneurs, Bernard began working with Sebastian upon acquiring his new machine in July 2023. Since then, Sebastian has been mentoring Bernard on how he has built his value-addition business and they have also been working together using their two machines to process crops even faster as a joint business venture.
“Through partnerships with Sebastian we manage to make more feeds within the shortest time possible and get money in few hours,” said Bernard. He already is off to a great start with the addition of this new machine and looks forward to growing his business further.
Expanding Reach Through Joint Efforts
Similar to Sebastian and Bernard, we have seen other groups of young entrepreneurs connect with one another to join forces. In some areas of Western Kenya, the harvest yield varies from county to county, resulting in less business opportunity for some of our entrepreneurs as compared to others. When this happened in a recent season, we learned that some of Bountifield’s youth entrepreneurs joined forces to move machines to where the harvest was, creating more business for one another and effectively serve farmers in their communities.
When Henry, owner of Kipkaren River Agro Shop, realized that there were more crops to be processed in Kakamega County than could be done with only one machine, he connected with another Bountifield entrepreneur, John, owner of Kajome Enterprise, to provide referrals of farmers for him closer to John’s area to connect with and offer his services. With the connections made, John was able to increase his productivity by processing crops for customers he otherwise would never have met.
“Last year, I partnered with Henry from Lugari sub-county, who connected me with some farmers and I managed to shell 327 bags,” John explained. “With these connections, I have expectations that I will do even more bags next season since Lugari has a good number of farmers doing maize in larger scale.”
A Growing Entrepreneurial Support Network
We are increasingly observing entrepreneurs continue to connect and support one another outside of Bountifield activities and events. It has been exciting to witness their transformation. Youth are truly the future of African agriculture.
“I would like to express my gratitude for the support Bountifield has given to us,” said John. “The farmers have been delighted with the shelling services that we have offered, and they are referring other farmers to us due to productivity and efficiency of our services.”