Agriculture is a key contributor to the economies of many emerging and developing markets and a powerful tool to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. Recent studies show that growth in agriculture remains 2–3 times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors; they also show that the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers play a crucial role in delivering this growth and also in producing 70% of the world’s food. It is therefore logical and necessary that policymakers and donors look at ways to stimulate entrepreneurship in this critical sector. Incubators are an important tool to spur entrepreneurship in Kenya and around the world, including emerging markets and less developed economies.
E4Impact Foundation, under the Agrichange Program, funded by Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo and in partnership with Manitese, NECOFA Kenya, SIVAM, Associazione Produttori Apistici della Provincia di Milano-APAM, Università di Torino, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore sede di Piacenza, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network – KOAN supports actors operating in the pork and honey value chains. E4Impact trained 40 youth-entrepreneurs, 40% of which women. They began with a three-month capacity building program in November 2021. This package entailed introduction and reviewing of the business models refined over the duration of the training period. The youth were trained virtually on the business model, basic accounting to look at their costs, revenues and calculate their break-even points, and finally they would be taken through a session on entrepreneurial marketing to help them identify their marketing channels and adopt digital marketing skills in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
The program has a strong impact on the lives of the beneficiaries, as it facilitates their growth through a combination of services, such as shared facilities and equipment, business development, technology, finance, mentoring and networking. One of the entrepreneurs in the program, Meidimi Sokoto, founder of DimJim Mushrooms in the mushroom value chain, shared: “The business model design gave me a unique viewpoint on how to think creatively about my business and how to improve and scale”.
Robert Mwangi, of Bee My Partner Youth Group in the honey value chain, is now able to provide quotations and invoices to his clients. He also stated that they have changed their bookkeeping from a manual to an online one, which was really helpful to keep track of their transactions efficiently. Jane Rose Waithera, Founder of Jenny’s Cakes and Cookies, claimed that “E4Impact Foundation took me through a training that I will be forever grateful for the experience it included. Being introduced to the business model was eye-opening and the coaching sessions to guide us all through the program were great. Being the top 15 enterprises to receive the grant award was amazing. To summarize, I want my business to be the ‘yellow mbuzi’’’
A significant improvement is evident in businesses, with many of them shifting to digital marketing channels and activities, such as the use of the social media to market their products. Through the training program, the enterprises now have a business logo to use in their marketing and advertising, and also in their branding activities. The program was implemented at a time that Kenya was still observing Covid-19 restrictions and the virtual interactions asllowed the youths to participate in other complementary training sessions, such as the Google Digital skills that the foundation organized.
Last but not least, it is important to note that the enterprise courtesy of E4Impact is currently in talks with a potential investor from Truvalu Kenya, which has a unique mix of investments, business development and trade. This will certainly help the entrepreneurs involved in the Agrichange program, which could take their businesses to the next step.
Isabella Tenai and Cicilia Toroitich
(cover photo credits: Mani Tese)