In Uganda, 80% of the total population is younger than 30, 80% of Uganda’s youth live in rural areas, and about one in four young people (age 10-24) reside in urban areas where they dream to find employment. Supporting youth to engage in agri-businesses and making it attractive to do so is one holistic solution to tackle unemployment in the country’s rural areas and avoid the outflow of youth to the capital.
In two cities in Uganda, Mbale and Gulu, Rikolto is promoting sustainable and inclusive food systems by strengthening youth-led innovative businesses and creative solutions. We strongly believe that young people are catalysts of change who bring creative innovations in all spheres of life, including our food systems.
Poor performance of the agriculture sector coupled with the lack of agribusiness and entrepreneurship skills is one of many causes of youth unemployment. Young people often lack the necessary skills to start their own agribusiness and are missing skills such as business planning, financial management, accounting, strategic planning, and creating linkages with other chain actors. They struggle to access critical resources for their potential business, including capital, knowledge, land and a network. Furthermore, young people often lack exposure to successful businesses and entrepreneurs, preventing them to learn from more experienced peers. They have a need for coaching, mentoring and feedback on their business plans and ideas. Equal opportunities are needed for both young women and men.
The importance of the private sector for the economic development of a country is widely recognised. However, the Ugandan private sector remains weak and largely informal. 90% of businesses are small, informal, and collapse in a period of 3 years. Access to credit is also a very big challenge. This does not stop Ugandans from trying, as they are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the world. While currently, agriculture is not very attractive for youth, agriculture and fishery do represent 24% of Uganda’s GDP and 71% of its employment and therefore offer a great opportunity for youth employment in agricultural businesses.
Through the Generation Food Programme, Rikolto aims to come up with opportunities through an array of tools e.g. adapted training, networking and funding to elevate the chance of developing a successful agribusiness. All these tools inspire and support young entrepreneurs to impact local food environments with the goal of working towards decent work and safe and affordable food for all.
To tackle these challenges, this project targets young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas in three value chains (grains, horticulture and cocoa) in Mbale and Gulu by setting up an agribusiness incubator. Businesses come from all corners of the food system: From food production and processing to waste management and sustainable practices.
Some examples of specific activities are the following:
Our ultimate goal is to support the transition towards a sustainable and fair food system in Mbale and Gulu that increases 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. We want specifically to encourage the participation of young agri-entrepreneurs in bringing about this transition.
Rikolto supports cities in developing sustainable, inclusive, resilient and safe food systems in cities across the world. The evidence generated from pilot activities with the cities is documented and turned into knowledge which is then mobilised to foster peer-to-peer learning and contribute to international discussions on sustainable urban food systems.