30 young entrepreneurs demonstrating innovative solutions in the horticulture value chain in the Southern Highlands

30 young entrepreneurs demonstrating innovative solutions in the horticulture value chain in the Southern Highlands

in News
Ine Tollenaers
Ine Tollenaers
Donor Communication Manager

Youth are catalysts and leaders of innovation in all spheres of life, and agriculture is not different. As part of the European Union funded AGRI-CONNECT programme in partnership with the Government of Tanzania, Rikolto developed the “Generation Food Accelerator”, an incubator for youth-led businesses, together with Sahara Ventures. The incubator supports young entrepreneurs with innovative business solutions to improve the food system in the Southern Highlands to ensure that healthy, sustainable and nutritious food is available for all. It specifically focuses on youth working in the horticulture sector.

On Friday 4 February, the first edition of the Generation Food Accelerator celebrated the end of its incubation phase with a “Demo Day” in Mbeya. During the Demo Day, 30 youth demonstrated their business solutions and after pitching to a jury of experts, 18 businesses were awarded with grants to advance their development. Based on the needs of the businesses, 12 youth received 9 million and 6 youth were granted 6 million Tanzanian shillings. The awarded winners cover a wide range of agri-businesses within the horticulture value chain: Organic fertilizer producers (input supply), organic farmers (production), tomato wine, nutritious cakes and juice processors, delivery and transporter services, and digital solutions to fill gaps within the value chain.

The Demo Day was opened by Guest of Honour Mbeya District Commissioner Hon. Chuachua. In his opening speech, he thanked the youth for their commitment to solving the challenges in our food system: “I would like to thank the young people who show imagination and willingness to invent good business to solve various challenges in the value chain of vegetable and fruit products.” Following the opening speech, the young entrepreneurs pitched their businesses to an expert jury. One of the youth pitching was Ronah Ernest from R’s Yummy Yummy Nutritious Bakery, who testifies about her experience with the Generation Food Accelerator: “The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you. What the Generation Food Accelerator offered me is a treasure for life and I thank Rikolto and Sahara Ventures for equipping me with valuable business skills.”

In this edition of the Generation Food Accelerator, 100 youths were selected from among 500 youth-led business solutions submitted. These 100 youths - 20 youths each from Katavi, Songwe, Mbeya, Njombe and Iringa respectively - have sharpened their business skills and strengthened the sustainability of their business model during a bootcamp. After the bootcamp, the 30 youths leading the most sustainable and innovative businesses received one-on-one coaching, additional business training as well as access to small grants during a three-month incubation phase.

The Generation Food Accelerator aims to support 400 young men and women by 2024 in setting up and developing successful businesses in the horticulture value chain. At Rikolto, we firmly believe that young people are the future of inclusive and sustainable food systems.”

Frank Kaminyoge Rikolto Agribusiness Advisor Katavi