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Project targeting young entrepreneurs in East Africa kicks off in Nairobi

By Standard Reporter | October 21st 2015
By Standard Reporter | October 21st 2015

NAIROBI, KENYA: An ambitious project to help young East African entrepreneurs get funding for their businesses entered a new phase on Wednesday morning with a select group beginning their training at the Toyota Kenya Academy in Nairobi.

The two-day training will see the 60 East African youths equipped with the tricks they need to grow their agribusiness startups and also attract both local and international funding.

The 60 are nominees for the Young Innovators in Agribusiness Competition that is sponsored by USAID Trade and Investment Hub, Syngenta and the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN), which is the implementing agency.

“The main goal is to enable East African youth stimulate enterprises that attract potential investors and stakeholders,” Mr James Shikwati of IREN said.

Mr Shikwati is a the first African winner of the Walter-Scheel Memorial Prize 2015 and last week walked away with the Jack Shewmaker Leadership Award 2015 for his work with Enactus Kenya, a leadership programme for university students.

Shikwati said the competition is open to East African youth aged 18-35 years in Ethiopia, Seychelles, Mauritius or Madagascar, whose enterprises are not more than a year old and have a clearly  defined business model(beyond idea stage).

The participants at the training in Nairobi are evenly divided between 60 start-ups and 60 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  

The top 30 finalists will receive entry to the Agribusiness Innovation and Trade Fair conducted by IREN and its partners, in May 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The top six finalists will receive seed capital amounting to $20,000.

He said the project is a unique way of fighting the high level of youth unemployment using agribusiness. The trainers will use ideas generated by the participants themselves as the starting point.

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