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The need for holistic youth mobilization in agricultural transformation

On February 2017, forty seven African youth attended the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit (YAW2017) in Kigali, Rwanda. Fourteen of those youth delegates were selected to receive 12 months of mentoring from senior delegates attending the Summit.

Over the last three months, these youth mentees have started forming relationships with their mentors who will support and challenge them during this year to take their next steps in their lives and careers. We’ve asked the mentees to reflect on what they have learned since the Young Africa Work’s Summit. 

Since the Young Africa Works Summit 2017 (YAW 2017) and post my graduation ,I have been asking myself why youth should be involved in agriculture.
YAW 2017  was the first event I met a lot of youth sharing the same love passion foragriculture. Although I found the YAW youth delegates too convinced about the need and the role of youth, especially those with good education, in agrifood systems, it was also an open discussion for me on why other youth we all know of don’t find agriculture as a promising sector. 
Post the Summit, I am still very excited about the huge support and available resources youth can take advantage of be it  individually mentors, regionally and internationally especially with the organizations that are interested in facilitating the youth in picking up a career in agriculture.  When I decided to start my company “Real Green Gold Ltd” I had the hope to create an agribusiness franchise that would specialize in farming and sell agro-products with added value. This is vision I noticed I share with all agripreneurs I met at Summit, and it is a vision of transforming the ever subsistence farming sector in Africa into a business oriented and formal job creating opportunities. I had that vision and most of the people I shared it with as a business idea were very excited of how good it is but with no means  on how to make it work. 
This is the case of most youth who at first have nice ideas that can transform agriculture but get stuck because they believe that they don’t have enough resources, capital, etc. With the experience I have since my investment in youth entrepreneurship and the discussions we had during the Summit, I am very convinced that there is a need for developing a holistic movement of young agripreneurs like us to mobilize others on how to start small, learn by doing and grow big. It is with that hope that I started and since my participation in the YPARD workshop at the YAW 2017, I have leanrt how to be assertive and  how to effectively communicate my dreams. 
I am also excited to be supported by Dianne Cornes my mentor and having her encouragement and herwords of advise from her years of experience with youth entrepreneurship is the best I could ever ask for.  This in turn makes me  believe inhelping more youth to be involved in agriculture and  assuch, mentorship should be supported and expanded to a level that every young agripreneur finds an opportunity to be mentored by an experienced adult.
I have learnt how to engage and manage my social network through the lessons learnt during the mentorship exercise.  This supports what I learnt from meeting Tony O. Elumelu the founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation during his meetup with TEF 2017 entrepreneurs in Kigali. His pan-Africanism vision of transforming Africa by making our generation fishermen rather than being given fish got me  thinking of how young agripreneurs can build multibillion companies that are able to transform the huge production from African farms to also sell to our African market rather than exporting our products as raw material and import it again as finished products. 
I believe, Africa is our market for our finished products and the resources to produce, and my dream now is to see a vibrant movement of agripreneurs taking the lead to use this opportunity and serve our continent by creating jobs and feeding the world sustainably. For we now have the privilege other generations never had like being mentored online and the open knowledge we can access through ICT. 
I am still looking forward to see more youth entering this fast growing sector with more creativity and innovation to transform the way agriculture is been perceived.