Generation Food: The challenge continues in Ouagadougou

Generation Food: The challenge continues in Ouagadougou

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Rose Somda
Regional Communication Manager

When Madeleine Delma, a 25-year-old agronomy student from Ouagadougou, spotted the Generation Food: Call for Young Entrepreneurs in Agribusiness online, she did not hesitate to apply. “I have always been fascinated by food processing.” She wanted to create a tomato sauce. After participating in a Hackathon this May, she along with 60 other young entrepreneurs continues the training programme of the Generation Food incubator. Get a glimpse into the impressions from her entrepreneurial journey shaping a future sustainable food system for Ouagadougou city.

With 70% of the population illiterate, increasing supply and consumption of "ready-to-eat" food with low nutritional value, high levels of urban poverty, and high prevalence of obesity (25%), mostly among women, COVID 19's spread through West African cities like Ouagadougou makes the message more than clear - we need to strengthen the city's local food system. And one of the most solid ways to do it is to support the entrepreneurial journey of young women like Madeleine.

Ouagadougou is one of the largest cities in Burkina Faso, with a population of 1.8 million, half of them under 15 years old. To make sure that every citizen, regardless of their gender, can access and afford sufficient, safe and nutritious food, we need to allow and support the new ideas of the future food processing business owners, bio food brands, agroforestry farmers and agri-food distributors that can contribute to better food in the cities.

Rikolto’s Generation Food initiative is taking the challenge seriously. About 300 applications were received. Madeleine’s journey started in May of this year; hers was one of the 60 business ideas selected during an initial Hackathon. The challenge: how to feed the greater Ouaga area?

The group is currently collaborating with 20 coaches and mentors - young people undergoing two-year business training - for the continuation of the incubation process.

The group is currently collaborating with 20 coaches and mentors - young people undergoing two-year business training - for the continuation of the incubation process.

The young entrepreneurs and business promoters were organised into three (3) groups with an average of 26 people each. Theoretical and practical workshops are being conducted, addressing topics such as business management, marketing, taxation, training in leadership and practical sessions on manufacturing products in the laboratory using food processing technologies.

In Ouagadougou, Generation Food is funded by Gillès Foundation and partnering with the Economic and Urban Development Agency (ADEU), and the Department of Food Technology of the Research Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology (IRSAT/DTA), located in Ouagadougou, in collaboration with the Municipality of the city.

The Generation Food incubator initiative is part of Rikolto’s International Food Smart Cities programme. In different cities around the world, including Burkina Faso, Arusha, and Leuven, Rikolto supports municipalities in formulating food policies and putting them into practice. In co-creation with universities, businesses, local food production/distribution initiatives, municipalities and farmer cooperatives, we develop business models (from farm to fork) that make the transition to sustainable cities possible.

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This food business incubator aimed at young people is the first of its kind in the city of Ouagadougou. The Municipality is working hard to make this project a reality. One of the advantages of the incubation process is that it enables the emulation of new business ideas that are sustainable and viable for the city”. - Edouard BOUDA, Director-General of the Economic and Urban Development Agency of the city of Ouagadougou.

"The process is already inspiring people", says Traore Née Gorga Kourfom, Research Engineer from the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (IRSAT). "We have seen great interest from young entrepreneurs, who are eager to learn processing techniques”. She is facilitating a course on the agri-food processing technology part of the incubator.

"We gain knowledge of the traps we could have fallen into during the incubation phase and how to avoid them. I used to think that all I needed to know was how to attract customers and make the product attractive. Thanks to the training on marketing, I know that this is not enough - I have to research and plan how to increase and engage the customers",

Gisèle Sawadogo Young entrepreneur

At the end of the incubator programme, the group and their mentors will defend their business plans, to be selected from the 15 start-ups, to receive a grant."We follow the various training courses on production techniques to be able to better guide the learners afterwards", says Mariam KABORE née KADOGO, one of the coaches.

In addition to rewarding the best, the incubator programme facilitates connecting all 80 entrepreneurs and business promoters with investors, including financial institutions and suppliers of products, to enable them to realise their economic projects.

"This training allowed me to put together my ideas on my tomato processing project. Now I feel ready to improve my business plan to pitch my idea to financial institutions and investors,"

Madeleine Delma Young entrepreneur

"The training courses are spread over several months, to allow participants to assimilate the knowledge provided and to put into practice the techniques taught in one module before being trained in the next,” says our colleague Bernadette Ouattara, Coordinator of the Rikolto Food Smart Cities programme in West Africa.