By Elias Hakizimana.
A new incubator was inaugurated in Kicukiro District, Gatenga Sector so as to boost capacity of youth in Agribusiness which will eventually lead to their sustainable growth.
This facility was officially inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources Dr. Geraldine Mukeshimana on Friday, August 30th, 2019 inside Gatenga Sector’s Business Development Fund (BDF).
The incubator will help young graduates who are in Agribusiness sector tackle existing challenges.
Dubbed “Envisage Youth Agribusiness Incubator”, the initiative is flagship project powered by a collaborative consortium of partners from both Rwanda and Finland; namely: Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF), Rwanda Business Development Fund (BDF), Local Universities (starting from Christian University of Rwanda, then University of Rwanda and University of Kibungo) – from Rwanda; as well as Hanken Entrepreneurship Society & Hanken Business Lab of Hanken School of Economics, University of Helsinki, and other top notch business incubators – from Finland.
Mukeshimana highly commended efforts of this kind of partnership, saying that Agriculture is not a business of one person, but is something that is complex.
“Our country is promoting Agribusiness and the private sector is the one that does business, our aim is to increase many entrepreneurs in Agriculture system. The two main challenges we still have are small scare land and access to finance,” she said.
The Minister requested BDF to adequately support these young graduates in Agribusiness to run successful projects.
“We want them to be known by the banks, failure to support them to move their businesses forward has bad impact and supporting them to grow has millions of opportunities for this country,” Mukeshimana noted.
The incubator has as purpose of accelerating the sustainable growth of Rwandan startups especially in the agricultural industry.
It will produce strong and successful companies that can leave the incubator financially viable and freestanding.
As a result, the graduates will innovate the agricultural industry, create jobs and strengthen the Rwandan economy.
It is expected that new jobs will be created for youth in Rwanda especially in the agriculture sector after the initiative empowers young entrepreneurs in rural areas and in Universities.
With the partnership, the incubators will increase production in all parts of the agricultural value chain in Rwanda, decrease number of handlebars in farming while increasing production, fulfill the domestic demand for agricultural products and increase export while also generating new tax returns in Rwanda.
The Envisage Incubator will offer services into four primary categories including Facility Based Services such as access to co-working office space and technical equipment from the incubator, Educational programs like access to top-notch business training powered by various local and international partners, Professional Network and Relationship Supportespecially via companies in the Nordics that can assist in ICT, production, farming techniques, machinery and automation.
RYAF will enable streamlined piloting as well as distribution of new innovation and Business Development Assistance with prototyping, Mentoring, Coaching and Access to Capital.
Besides these offerings, Envisage will also reach out to local and international companies to receive free training and support in terms of legal matters, accounting etc., in exchange for visibility in the Incubator as a promoter of young entrepreneurship.
Speaking to the media during the inauguration of the incubator, Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, Chairman of Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF) said that the initiative will help youth in Agribusiness to tackle existing challenges including lack of needed skills and access to finance.
“This will help us in accountability and will help those in RYAF shops. They will learn about accountancy, taxpaying, and many youths will register businesses through different incubators that will be established. The initiative will also ease inter-trade,” Hategekimana said.
It is expected that youth who are using the incubator will be at a good level of handling existing problems facing Agribusiness after three to six months having started.
“This step to work with BDF will help our youths to manage their activities,” Hategekimana added.
Countrywide, there are over 12,000 youths registered in RYAF data base recognized to do Agribusiness. This number will be increased as other youths join.
Livingstone NKUSI, Head of Grants in BDF said the incubator will help youth to practice modern farming and will grow their business knowledge through coaching and thus boosting their agribusiness projects.
“Within six months, these youths will end up with bankable projects. We currently have agribusiness projects for young graduates we are supporting and we need to enable them get funding/loans, we also have other post-harvest handling products of MINAGRI and other products in line with promotion of exports.” He said.
“We focus on young graduates with modern agriculture projects, who have or not yet implemented them but willing to implement, we will use members of RYAF who have projects before moving to other projects,” He added.
Beneficiaries speak out
Norbert Rafiki, a graduate from College of Agriculture, Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine (CAVM) in Food Science and Technology is actually a beneficiary who is undergoing the training in this incubator, applying Hydroponic system to cultivate in water without soil.
Dubbed “Hydro Feeds Network”, his organization deals with animal feed farming where they grow nutritious grasses for livestock and cereals.
“I hope to gain further knowledge and management of my business through this incubator,” he said.
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