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Welcoming YPARD Eswatini Representative: Gcina Dlamini

YPARD is delighted to welcome Gcina Dlamini as the Country Representative of YPARD Eswatini.

Gcina holds a BSc in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management from the University of Swaziland, a Certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship from UNISA, a certificate in Business and Entrepreneurship Development from Oklahoma State University and a Certificate in Leadership Change from Cambridge University. He is also a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow. Gcina is also the co-founder and Managing Director of Smiling Through Investments (STIN) - an Agribusiness company that specializes in the legume seed business and bean value addition. Of late STIN has diversified into vegetable production which includes; lettuce, beetroot, green paper, carrot, butternut, sweet potatoes, strawberries. Under the able leadership of Gcina; STIN pioneered the first annual National Agribusiness Fair and School Festival in eSwatini; formerly Swaziland in 2015. With this initiative, about 500 young people familiarized themselves with numerous opportunities available through agribusiness and agri-prenuership.

Gcina is passionate about agribusiness because he strongly believes it provides a sustainable and scalable solution to food insecurity on the African continent. Gcina and friends founded STIN in 2013 as University students seeking to overcome challenges associated with growing unemployment in his country and to encourage young people to become wealth and job creators. STIN has gone on to win numerous awards and grants including the Coca Cola Kickstart grant of 20,000USD in 2016. Gcina and his team used the grant to set up Swaziland’s first seed processing plant; creating numerous job opportunities in the process. STIN has also been represented in high-level conferences such as the CCARDESA Youth in Agriculture Summit, held in Durban in August 2015. In 2018; STIN was among the select youth-led organizations that pitched their project ideas at Pitch Palace Commonwealth in London, April.

In 2017, Gcina and his business partners established Ignite Young Processionals – a peer to peer mentoring and coaching program designed for young people passionate about agriculture and agribusiness. Gcina uses this space to talk about his experience as an emerging successful agriprenuer. Gcina says by telling their story; Agriprenuer has helped many young people start their own businesses and have also challenged often unquestioned narratives that one has to study; graduate and become an employee. They have since redesigned and restructured Ignite Young Professionals to make the mentorship program more impact and scalable. For example, their mentoring program accepts only six project finalists from the University who then undergo a six weeks intensive mentorship program.

Gcina says his participation in the YALI BED training remains both a great and life-changing experience. It helped him continue to set high business goals for himself and gave him the determination to lead his company better and more profitably. His participation in the YALI training also opened many opportunities for him both at home and internationally. For example; in 2018; Gcina was selected a Mandela Washington Fellow in the US. He was also part of the Queens Young Leaders Program at Cambridge University in the same year.

Gcina has advice for African entrepreneurs particularly those in the Agribusiness space.

‘As entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to build the capacity of our (African) youth particularly those in the agribusiness space because they are the only solution to a stable; peaceful and food secure Africa’.

He sees universities especially faculties of agriculture as strategic places where youth can be influenced to consider Agribusiness as a career and a way to life. He believes with the right mindset and right people driving change; African universities must become centres of excellence that not only intellectually empower young people but also do so in very practical ways. He says universities need to be flexible enough to support, mentor youth with passion in agripreneurship to ensure they become successful entrepreneurs who are ready to take on the challenges of the 21st century; among them feeding an overgrowing population; estimated to hit the 9 billion mark by 2050.

“My vision for YPARD Eswatini is a network of empowered young professionals leading the societal transformation. I will reach and empower young professionals to influence every domain of society. I also envision more youth engaging in the agricultural sector as a business to improve their livelihoods and avenue for job creation. I will also ensure we host annual youth agripreneur awards, to showcase the great work done by young people at the grassroots level, especially young women. There is enormous energy found in young people- creativity,  and passion which will ensure that Eswatini and the African Continent is food secure.  I am looking forward to working with like-minded and passionate youth towards the betterment of the Eswatini chapter of YPARD”

Welcome on board, Gcina Dlamini.

If you are from or based in Eswatini and want to get involved in YPARD Eswatini activities, please contact Gcina at ypardeswatini@gmail.com