Tanzanian hortipreneurs: a new generation

Tanzanian hortipreneurs: a new generation

Supporting youth- and women-led businesses to improve inclusion in the food system.

Tanzania has a booming youth population, which is entering the workforce in big numbers every year. Although agribusiness is often not the first career choice for youth, it offers plenty of opportunities to earn a good income and build a strong and competitive business. After all, the growing urban population is depending on agripreneurs and smallholder farmers to provide 75–80% of the food on their plate. At the same time, Tanzanian agriculture contributes more than one quarter of the GDP, provides 85% of exports, and employs about 80% of the workforce.

Funded by the European Union, Rikolto is coordinating a programme to build competitive and inclusive horticulture businesses in Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, specifically in the regions of Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Songwe and Katavi. The Southern Highlands are often referred to as the breadbasket of the country and its wider region, since the area produces plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as rice and maize. As part of this programme, Rikolto wants to support 100 youth and women per year to set up a successful business in the horticulture value chain.


Food systems across the Southern Highlands are characterised by unsustainable practices and poor inclusion:

  • Food contamination of grains, fresh fruits and vegetables;

  • Poorly organised agri-enterprises, leading to the use of poor-quality inputs and the production of low-quality goods;

  • Limited access to new technologies and farming techniques, especially for smallholder farmers;

  • Environmental issues such as soil erosion and water loss remain important problems that are only exacerbated by climate change;

  • Inadequate storage facilities and the limited use of cold trucks contribute to large post-harvest losses (20-50% of produce);

  • Safe and healthy fruits and vegetables are hard to find, and dietary diversity is low, leading to a high prevalence of malnutrition among children. This is one of the causes of stunting and wasting.

But there are even more challenges for youth and innovative ideas:

  • High unemployment rates amongst youth causes young people to struggle to develop innovative and sustainable food businesses because of a lack of agribusiness and entrepreneurship skills and a limited access to resources.

  • Sustainable and fair food systems require innovative solutions, creativity and a break from business as usual, but investing in innovative business ideas can be risky.


To tackle these challenges, Rikolto and its partner Sahara Ventures developed a Generation Food Accelerator to support 100 young entrepreneurs each year in the specific wards in Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya, Songwe and Katavi that are part of the EU programme. This accelerator will offer a range of skills and networking opportunities to youth to strengthen their businesses.

Some examples of specific activities are the following:

  1. Before the accelerator’s kick off, we take time to integrate the lessons learnt from the Generation Food incubator organized in Arusha. We will also design a community outreach campaign targeted on youth, but also ensuring the inclusion of women in the project.

  2. A  Generation Food Bootcamp where 20 participants will come together in each of the five regions for a week to develop their business skills and network.

  3. The Generation Food Accelerator in which 25 young entrepreneurs per year will receive feedback on business plans, personalized coaching and networking opportunities throughout three months. Of these 25 entrepreneurs, 15 youth will receive seed funding for their business.

  4. Connect young food entrepreneurs to business and food networks and build their networking capacity

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Rikolto and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the EU.

The Generation Food Accelerator in the Southern Highlands is a project that runs from May 2021 to May 2024. It will focus on young women and men between 18 and 35 from both rural and urban areas with a strong interest in developing their own business in the horticulture sector, such as young graduates, unemployed youth, and farmers.

We expect to target (each year):

  • 100 participants in the Bootcamp: 20 youth per region

  • 25 entrepreneurs in the Acceleration phase

  • 15 entrepreneurs (3 per region) receiving seed funding

Project results

  • 100 youth (per year) improve their business, administration and entrepreneurial skills and strengthen their understanding of food systems.

  • Generation Food participants innovate and co-create business solutions.

  • Up to 15 businesses are financially supported each year after the acceleration phase.

  • Young hortipreneurs are effectively connected to local and international business networks and can connect with peers, mentors, and potential investors.

In the long term…

The project will contribute to the following objectives:

  • Support the development of agri-businesses that deliver sustainable solutions for the most pressing food system challenges in the Southern Highlands

  • Increase employment of young people in the Southern Highlands

  • Enable young people to become ambassadors of safe and sustainable food in their networks and raise awareness about safe & sustainable food consumption.

Ultimately, the project will contribute to our vision of sustainable and fair food systems in the Southern Highlands that increase the accessibility of safe and healthy food to all consumers, generates a fair income for all actors throughout the chain and reduces the ecological impact on the planet.

Sahara Ventures

Sahara Ventures is implementing the Generation Food Accelerator in close cooperation with Rikolto.

Sahara Ventures

The European Union