Good Food for Cities

Generation Food goes international

January 30, 2024

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.

Icon Place



Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Uganda

Icon Scope


240 young people between 18 and 25

Icon Duration


Until 2024


  • Whether for producing their own sustainable, healthy food, or running a small business that processes and/or packs food ecologically, young people often lack technical entrepreneurial skills (financial management, strategic planning, accounting, business management, market analysis….) and essential entrepreneurial soft skills (leadership, teamwork, problem solving, networking, communication…) to turn their ideas into concrete business plans.
  • These skills can hardly be developed in an unfavourable environment. Young people often lack connections with a network of service providers on which to rely, and of successful companies and entrepreneurs from which they can learn.
  • A good business plan goes along with the necessary investment. The limited access to finance with favourable conditions is one of the major causes that dissuade new potential and innovative entrepreneurs from taking on the challenge.
  • Youth unemployment: data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) indicate that as of December 2019, 37% of Ecuador’s unemployed are young people aged 15-24. In Burkina Faso, where almost 80% of the population works in agriculture, the unemployment rates are not high, but the vast majority of jobs are informal and insecure. Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world (78% under the age of 30), and 83.5% of the Ugandan population aged 15-29 works in informal jobs, a figure 10% higher for young women than men.
  • 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.

Young people often lack technical entrepreneurial skills and essential entrepreneurial soft skills 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.

By youngsters for youngsters

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.

Discover Youca

Our approach

Connect and strengthen young men and women in rural and urban areas.

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!

Create more attractive jobs for rural and urban youth in the food sector.

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.

Enhance young people’s involvement in decision-making processes influencing the food system of the future.

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.

Start local communities of young food entrepreneurs.

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.

No items found.


  • The first Generation Food incubator was set up in Leuven through a joint investment by the Province of Flemish Brabant and EIT Food.
  • In 2020, thanks to the joint investment of the DOEN foundation, an incubator was launched in Arusha. A Generation Food Accelerator funded by the European Union with 4 cycles of entrepreneurs (2021-2024) was kicked off in 2021 in five regions of the Southern Highlands in Tanzania.
  • Ouagadougou: a 2-year project started in 2020 thanks to the Gillès Foundation.

This is what 2024 will look like!

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 Good Food for Cities programme. Within this programme, Rikolto supports municipalities in formulating food policies and putting them into practice.

Read more

Who do we work with?

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.

UDLA University


Stories from the ground

Discover more stories