The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in strengthening and promoting agricultural enterprises has never been greater.Furthermore, governments, private sector, multi-lateral and non-governmental organisations (NGO), and especially young people, are increasingly viewing the intersection of ICTs and the agriculture sector as a prime means of tackling the global youth unemployment challenge by enabling enterprise. The opportunity for youth employment in a merged ICT and agricultural sector represents a potential boon for enterprising young people in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.
Agriculture is so important in the Africancontinent’s evolving income, population and urbanisation dynamics that, in 2003, governments endorsed the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security. The agreement aimed to slash the continent’s food import bill of nearly US$35 billion by earmarking 10% of public spending towards agriculture (Africa Progress Panel, 2014). With increasing population, food security has become a critical issue, especially in Africa where the population will double, from the current estimate of about 1.2 billion, to 2.4 billion by 2050. Therefore, agricultural productivity needs to be strengthened radically to increase food availability. ICTs, which are often spearheaded by youth (Rahman and Fong, 2016), can contribute to this. Through ICTs, youth are thus well positioned to help advance agricultural transformation, while
improving their own livelihoods. Clearly, they also need adequate support in this process.
Why this guide?
This guide is designed to equip young aspiring ICT entrepreneurs who are interested in creating (social) businesses that address challenges in the agricultural sector (including fisheries, livestock and forestry) with key information and knowledge that can help them to use ICTs effectively to launch agriculture-oriented businesses. It is aimed at helping young entrepreneurs, in particular, to deal with the intricacies involved in
conceptualising, launching and succeeding in a merged ICT and agricultural enterprise. Therefore, knowledge contained in this document covers agricultural value chains and stakeholders, ICT business challenges, effective business plans and models of designing, funding and scaling ventures.
Developed by a team of international agribusiness and ICT consultants with over five decades of cumulative experience, this guide presents users with a road map for starting a business in the agricultural sector using ICTs, and outlines key opportunities and challenges that will be
encountered when creating a business. Leveraging real examples of challenges faced while developing businesses, the guide provides strategies and pathways for averting common mistakes faced by early-stage entrepreneurs using ICTs for agriculture (ICT4Ag). As well as containing carefully selected case studies, business and product development tools the guide showcases interviews from 17 entrepreneurs – from countries such as Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda- to highlight best practices. Other inputs (boxes, excerpts from articles) are from secondary research.
The guide is designed to serve as a comprehensive introductory reference to entrepreneurs. The reader is strongly encouraged to read additional relevant publications detailing the issues discussed. Some of these publications are referred to throughout to document, or in the appendices.
Who should use this guide?
This publication is intended to be used in two primary ways:
As a step-by-step road map for those about to start an ICT-enabled agribusiness.
As an accessible resource that can be used to provide guidance on specific aspects of setting up and running a business – from idea generation, to funding and scaling up.
This guide is intended for individuals/teams who are interested in creating enterprises in the ICT and agricultural sectors and also for those who are engaged in the sectors but are struggling to thrive. It is relevant for social enterprise or commercially driven enterprise endeavours. It will be most useful to readers with at least a secondary school education, basic business skills and computer literacy. Resources and pathways listed throughout the guide will assist young entrepreneurs to leverage insights from others who have developed ICT4Ag ventures and push forward their own initiatives.
New entrepreneurs can use the information provided in this guide either prior to exploring possible business ideas or after embarking upon their ventures. Though sections are written in order of a new company’s formation and growth, individual sections can be used as needed.