An accelerator can certainly help agribusiness take off with a focus on eliminating waste and increasing management efficiency. Incubators and accelerators are mechanisms and structures that help SGBs grow and expand. Now O-Farms will be the First Circular Agribusiness Accelerator in East Africa and it’s going to be established by Bopinc and Village Capital. With support from the IKEA Foundation, Bopinc and Village Capital will research, identify and support entrepreneurs who are developing innovative solutions for circular agriculture in the region.
Agribusiness incubators play an important role in developing the technology and value chains that let small agricultural businesses thrive in developing countries and emerging markets. Incubators are, therefore, a key contributor to these economies, boosting prosperity and reducing poverty, and there is increased interest in supporting interventions aimed at accelerating or incubating agribusinesses. The topic is especially important now, as public funding is likely to come under pressure in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emile Schmitz, Managing Director, Bopinc explains that this soon-to-be-launched accelerator is a first for the African continent.
“SMEs are one of the key drivers for change in the food system; 64% of all food consumed in Africa is handled by SMEs, and the number of agribusiness SMEs is steadily growing. By making their business models circular, we hope to create a ripple effect across the wider sector, helping to move food production throughout the region to go from a linear to a circular approach. O-Farms will be the first of its kind for Africa, never before have food-producing SMEs been challenged in this way.”
During the second half of 2021, 10 SMEs in Kenya and Ethiopia will be chosen to participate in the accelerator’s first cohort.
Petra Hans, Head of Portfolio, Agricultural Livelihood, IKEA Foundation explains why the programme is being targetted at SMEs in East Africa.
“East Africa has enormous potential for sustainable food systems. East Africa’s population is steadily growing and so is the demand for food in the region. The region also has great agricultural potential but, at the same time, there are large inefficiencies in the food system. In certain sectors like horticulture, where losses can rise up to 50%, most of these losses occur in the supply chain which is where we see the greatest potential for circular solutions. A circular economy in agriculture can provide multiple positive impacts such as new jobs, much more efficient use of natural resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions from the food sector.”
The accelerator includes several capacity-building events that will be focused on business model development, technical skills, how to become investor-ready, networking with a group of investors and mentors within the food ecosystem.
Allie Burns, Village Capital CEO explains that a key focus for the accelerator is supporting local leaders.
“We want to build a circular agriculture ecosystem that is sustainable – which means that it needs to be locally-led. Throughout this project, we will focus on lifting up local leaders who can provide the contextualized support that African entrepreneurs need to grow and scale.”
According to reports, at the end of the accelerator, two selected SMEs from each country will receive €25 000 in growth funding. The accelerator programme aims to make a concerted difference in the food sector in Africa by creating new products from food losses and by-products.