African smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups need support to build resilience and sustainability. A small improvement to their productivity via training, mentorship, access to better inputs and markets will have a huge impact on the industry and continent development. Cindy Euston-Brown writes about the opportunities.
Africa represents some of the most dynamic markets in the world, and at a time of growth and positive changes on the continent, the potential for agrifood investment in the region is high. However, early stage, startup businesses and the full potential of smallholder farmers on the continent are still largely untapped, while investment in global start-ups has increased drastically. African smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups need support to build resilience and sustainability. A small improvement to their productivity via training, mentorship, access to better inputs and markets will have a huge impact on the industry and continent development. We are seeing existing and new financial institutions and firms introducing new finance models to help smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups access loans as well as training to boost productivity. However, there is still so much that can be done, said Ben Leyka, CEO at the Africa Agri Council (AAC).
It is time to build resilience and sustainability for the long term said Ben. The African Agri Council (AAC) has launched the Market Support Programme (MSP) to address this gap.
“MSP is designed and developed to assist entrepreneurs on their journey from soil to store. The programme will target 10 million smallholder farmers and agribusiness startups in the next 10 years. Small scale farmers and earlystage agribusinesses have limited access to the assets that would facilitate a shift from low-productivity subsistence farming to modern commercial agribusiness. We are committed, through MSP, to provide an integrated programme that facilitates the long awaited shift,” said Ben.
Market Support Programme analyses gaps in farming production, product development, technical and operational capabilities to establish what the market and buyers’ needs are so that interventions can be implemented to allow easier access to targeted markets. “We address gaps such as branding, marketing and certifications which are buyers’ requirements,” said Debbie Payne, Director: Market Support at the AAC.
MSP first identifies local markets closer to the farm or facility, then looks outward to national markets and exports into Africa and the rest of the world. “Each market has needs which MSP experts have identified to facilitate easier access by its beneficiaries as we work on their sustainability,” said Debbie.
Company leaders are very important to their business operations; they lead by example to take the company to the next level, manage all aspects of the business, know their strengths and assemble a team with relevant expertise. With this in mind, MSP conducts two assessments; entrepreneur and company assessment – with this information, our experts are able to tailor our support and help grow sustainable businesses.
With mentoring, coaching and a three years AAC premium membership, MSP experts work with its beneficiaries and take them on a journey to sustainability along the value chain. The value chain universe covers hundreds of sub-sectors serving myriad crops, livestock, processing activities, agriculture technologies (agritech) and customer needs. MSP gives the company the tools while the entrepreneur or the farmer takes action. As the old saying goes “give them a fishing rod and show them how to fish’ is more sustainable because it gives skills and therefore allows the company to eventually stand alone and become the leaders of the future,” said Debbie.
“MSP works along the whole value chain from the guidance of what needs to be grown according to market needs through the journey from the fields to the end-user being buyers and consumers. The AAC, through MSP, is working with a network of local, regional and international buyers to understand their specific requirements regarding products, labelling, certifications etc, and use this information to guide our beneficiaries in their production processes and product development. MSP provides a new channel of demand for the programme beneficiaries and certified supply for our buyers,” posited Ben.
As a member of the AAC, MSP beneficiaries have access to the vast network of buyers, aggregators and investors. We encourage the combination of innovation with entrepreneurship to develop agribusinesses across the continent by increasing farmer productivity with market-led value chain strategies.
- Offer technical advice and monitor adherence to technical recommendations to meet market requirements
- Render innovation advice to improve understanding of the market trends and processing needs
- Identify potential market opportunities in niche markets and or general mainstream at local, national and international level
- Assist entrepreneurs to identify opportunities for produce to be grown
- Opportunities to add value for a market need
- To grow companies to be sustainable and create job opportunities by building a forceful team to compete on the world stage.
Calls for beneficiaries, sponsors and buyers
Are you a startup agribusiness? Are you a smallholder farmer? Do you need support to take your business to the next level? Contact Debbie Payne to share your story and apply at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AAC and its sponsors will contribute directly to the development of 10 million agribusinesses in Africa over the next 10 years. Support our mission by sponsoring MSP beneficiaries. Contact Manuel Singano at email@example.com
The AAC is working with local, regional and international buyers to understand their specific requirements regarding products, labelling, certifications etc, and use this information to guide our beneficiaries in their production processes and product development. Contact Debbie Payne at firstname.lastname@example.org and join our Buyers’ Network.
About the African Agri Council
The African Agri Council (AAC) is a panAfrican institution that promotes the development of sustainable food and agriculture in Africa. We are a network of key stakeholders connected to Africa’s entire food and agriculture business value chain.
We work with governments, investors and project owners and developers to accelerate investment into bankable agricultural projects, and bring together food and agriculture buyers and sellers and with a focus on attaining and improving access to regional and international markets.
Our networking platforms bring together thousands of members, partners, government representatives, investors, consultants, technology providers, retailers, farmers, aggregators and traders to connect, share knowledge and together help grow Africa’s agricultural sector. For more information go to www.agricouncil.org.
We run four annual events. These range in size from 400 to 950 participants. Our African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII) held in Cape Town is now Africa’s largest agribusiness and investment conference. The Investment Food Forum (IFF), Market Access Africa (MAA) and AFTI Summit have attracteda lot of interest from various stakeholders and partners. As a member, you will receive a discount off the registration fees of our events. Visitwww.agricouncil.org/events www.agricouncil.org/events to see our upcoming event dates and save the date for our member meetings www.agricouncil.org/aac-member-meetings.
Cindy Euston-Brown is the Communications and Marketing Director at the African Agri Council (AAC)