That the climate change movement is led by youngsters, just shows how passionate young people are about reducing the global footprint. After incubators in Belgium, Tanzania and Ouagadougou, Generation Food supports young people in Burkina Faso, Ecuador and Uganda with a fresh dream to contribute to a sustainable future.
Young peopleoften lack technical entrepreneurial skills and essential entrepreneurial softskills to translate innovative ideas into business plans. The development of these skills is often restricted since the youngsters lack a reliable professional network. Another challenge which holds young people back, is the limited access to financial means. Also, the youth unemployment is a key factor. 37% of Ecuador’s unemployed are people aged 15-24. In Burkina Faso, the vast majority of jobs are informal and insecure. Uganda, with one of the youngest populations in the world, struggles with informal jobs. Finally, young people are scarcely involved in the decision-making processes of food policies that define the framework within which they want to develop their businesses.
Creativity, passion, courage, and a desire to get involved are all characteristics of young people. Our common responsibility is to light the fuse of their willingness to bring positive changes.
On Youca Action Day more than 15,000 young people from Flanders and Brussels commit themselves for one day to work for companies, organisations, public institutions or private individuals. The “salary” earned on that day goes to projects supporting young people worldwide who are engaged towards achieving a just and sustainable society. Rikolto and Youca have partnered together since 2009 to support and encourage young people into farming and food businesses.
Rikolto will conduct a communications campaign in each city to reach the greatest number of youngsters and invite them to a 2-day Generation Food Hackathon. During the hackathon, young people are invited to think about viable business ideas for a sustainable and fair food system: the entire product cycle is covered, from food production to distribution and consumption. Participants are divided into complementary and mixed groups to enrich exchanges and be a source of mutual inspiration, and experts provide technical background and insights on specific topics. The most motivated are invited to participate in a 6-month “Start your startup” programme during which they will be coached in business skills (financial management, strategic planning, accounting, business management, market analysis, design thinking...) and social skills (leadership, teamwork, problem solving skills, networking, communication, team dynamics…) and will participate in field visits and in-depth discussions with experts on their business plan. We want to stimulate innovations from the bottom up!
During a local regional competition, between 10 and 20 ideas are then selected to be part of the Generation Food incubator. The winning teams will be taccompanied in the development or enhancement of their start-up through training, coaching, mentorship and networking. Participants will be provided with individual feedback and additional trainings, linked to a network of services providers, connected to potential customers, and given the opportunity to access start-up capital (grant or loan) to help their business take off. New youth-led businesses will provide job opportunities for young women and men.
Rikolto will connect young entrepreneurs with national and international networks that support young entrepreneurs, through their participation in networking events, platforms and thematic discussions. Particular attention will be given to increase youth representation in policy discussions on food and agriculture in the multi-stakeholder platforms located in every city where Rikolto already works. If we want young people to be key players in the shaping of a future-proof food system, they must have a voice in the debate.
A thriving community of strong entrepreneurs brings big advantages not only to the young entrepreneurs but also to a larger community of consumers. Complementarities and synergies among young entrepreneurs are key to leverage economies of scale along the value chain, to promote a more inclusive business culture and increase access to a more healthy and sustainable food for citizens. Rikolto aims to integrate the Generation Food incubators in the three cities to ensure that they will be supported by the city multi-stakeholder platforms after the end of the programme.
A group of approximately 240 young people between 18 and 25 acquires the necessary skills to develop a business plan. The teams with the most innovative ideas join the Generation Food Incubator in their region and 70% of them set up their own business. This means around 15 new, innovative, forward-looking food business initiatives in each city, bringing the total to 45. Both young people who want to launch their start-up and young people who already have an existing business and want to make it more sustainable, are involved in the process; and half of the new entrepreneurs are young women.
70% of young people join an international network of change-makers and exchange with other entrepreneurs in the food sector from Arusha (Tanzania), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Mbale (Uganda), Quito (Ecuador) and Leuven (Belgium).
The future young entrepreneurs relate to local platforms with a focus on local food policies and develop a network that will help them get new financial and learning resources.
Many other young people are inspired by the journey of their peers to become ambassadors and active actors of a sustainable food system.
We contribute to the following sustainability objectives :
Generation Food is one of the 5 flagships of Rikolto's international Food Smart Cities programme. Within this programme, Rikolto supports municipalities in formulating food policies and putting them into practice.
The development of inclusive business models in the food system and the setup of the incubator is done in collaboration with precious partners such as universities, businesses, local food production/distribution initiatives, municipalities and farmer cooperatives.