Now more than ever, the development of economically sustainable agriculture must be prioritized to achieve Ghana’s, as well as Africa-wide, food security objectives. Ghana’s population is predominantly young, full of potential, and presents a historic opportunity to ignite in them the fundamental shifts in orientation towards a prosperous agricultural economic future. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded Ghana Poultry Project (GPP) implemented by ACDI/VOCA is working together with local partners to provide mentoring opportunities for young entrepreneurs in the poultry value chain to prepare them to face the complex food security needs of the future.
In March 2021, the project organized a three-day Poultry Youth Mentorship and Business Bootcamp. Over 150 young entrepreneurs interested in the sub-sector participated in three implementing regions – Greater Accra, Ashanti, and Bono regions. The boot camp marks the beginning of the fourth cohort of the Poultry Mentorship Programme under the “Creating Access and Opportunities for the Next Generation Agribusiness Entrepreneur” theme.
The Poultry Youth Mentorship Programme
Founded in 2017, GPP’s Mentorship Programme seeks to develop young people into highly skilled, innovative and committed agribusiness entrepreneurs. The Mentorship Programme facilitates the successful mainstreaming of youth into the poultry value chain through capacity building. USDA and ACDI/VOCA share in the success of over 20 past-mentees who built their skills and knowledge in the poultry business through the mentorship programme which enabled them to thrive as poultry sector entrepreneurs.
The bootcamp provided training opportunities for participants and a chance to interact with industry players along the value chain including farmers, input suppliers, agtech providers, regulators, commercial banks, savings and loans, and other financial intermediaries. In addition, researchers from academia and representatives from government institutions participated in shaping the conversation, especially around technology and innovation as well as promoting sustainable animal husbandry. The National Board of Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) provided training on business development and record-keeping whiles AV Ventures, an impact investment company and for-profit subsidiary of ACDI/VOCA, took the entrepreneurs through financing models suitable for early-stage agri-businesses.
In a panel discussion, participants and panellists identified areas that could lead youth to succeed in agri-business as well as constraints and strategies to navigate barriers in Ghana’s poultry sub-sector. The panellists included partners working to promote youth development in Ghana such as – the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), NBSSI, poultry producers, processors, marketing firms, and poultry sub-sector group representatives. Participants were also given the chance to visit poultry enterprises including farms, feed manufacturing companies, meat processing facilities, and hatcheries to learn first-hand how the enterprises operate.
The Next Stage
Following their training, participants are required to submit business plans within two weeks to be evaluated by a team made of GPP officials and the programme’s resource persons who will select 30 of them (ten per region) to begin their mentorship journey. For three months, each of the mentees will intern with a partner poultry business to further develop their technical, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills. At the end of the period, 15 finetuned proposals will be selected for implementation through grant support upon their success in a business plan competition as well as performance appraisal from their mentors. Mentees are encouraged to present joint proposals where possible.
In her closing remarks at the boot camp, the Chief of Party of GPP, Carianne de Boer, congratulated the young leaders for their enthusiasm to be a part of the future of African agricultural economy. Ms de Boer added that the challenges in the agricultural sector, especially for youth participation in Ghana, are well documented, but encouraged participants to never give up. According to Ms. de Boer, “Possibilities abound when we dare to dream!” She added that USDA is committed to empowering youth, especially young women, to create sustainable employment for themselves and others in the agribusiness sector.
This article was originally published by ACDI/VOCA.