Seeking #Agripreneurs from “farm to fork” (and beyond)…

__Your vision is our provision!I once saw a poster that said, “I farm, you eat.” It made me stop in my tracks because most of the past, present and future of the world is in those four words… Other than the universal need for fresh water and clean air, the need for adequate and nutritious food, especially for our young children, is what unites our shared humanity across the globe, as painfully divided as we can be in other ways.

As I have written here before, if I were a young entrepreneur starting out in business now, I would seriously consider agriculture, and especially with the exciting new technologies emerging, I would look at what the experts now call the “agri-food” sector.

The global food market is huge and the need for food never-ending. With so many uncertainties across the Earth, there is at least one thing we can count on: Everyone will continue to need nutritious food… Always and forever. This is not only a growing market but a critical human need that we must use our entrepreneurial #mindset and#technology to meet in more innovative, effective and profitable ways.

Business opportunities abound “from farm to fork” as they say… and even before the farm and after the meal is over, too! Let’s talk.

#Breaking News!

If you’re interested in hearing more, I am excited to tell you that tomorrow (Thursday 24 January) at 13:15 (sharp, SAST) I will take part in an exciting fireside chat to discuss a new initiative we’re calling “Generation Africa”. I will be there in Davos together with Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara International (the world’s largest crop nutrient company, based in Norway). We will be joined on stage by three World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leaders:

# Nigerian economist, investor and agri-food entrepreneur Ms Ada Osakwe, founder and CEO of Agrolay; and

# South Africa-based technology entrepreneur Ms Rapelang Rabana (founder of Rekindle Learning and Yeigo, she was one of our “African Lionesses” from my FB series in 2015).

The discussion will be moderated by social entrepreneur and WEF Young Global Leader, Ms Katie Hill, who also happens to be Liquid Telecom’s Global Director of Power and Strategic Initiatives based in Nairobi, Kenya. Here is the link to tune in:

“Generation Africa” is an idea we have been working on for a few months now. It reflects our shared vision at Econet and Yara of the need to inspire and support young agri-food entrepreneurs across the continent. We will invite a coalition of others to join us in this collaboration not just to#Re-ImagineRural but to #Re-ImagineFoodProduction to create employment opportunities across the value chain in Africa’s cities, too!

I won’t share too much detail yet because part of the purpose of this first international public dialogue is to listen to everyone’s ideas, including yours, which I hope you will share here.

My friend Akin Adesina, who is now President of the African Development Bank, always used to say to me: “Agriculture is not a development activity, it is an industry!” Ever since he mentioned this, I have really opened my entrepreneurial eyes to see the opportunities, and it is absolutely breathtaking.

We really want young people with a whole mix of different interests to start to think differently about agriculture in Africa, and to begin to obtain the type of skills that will totally transform economies across Africa, literally from the ground up!

___Don’t say I didn’t tell you! The opportunities are there, but who will see them first and who will be the fast followers?

I once saw another quote somewhere that also got my attention: “To be interested in food and not food production, is clearly absurd!”

Now here’s some serious homework questions for those of you with the imagination and vision to create businesses with the potential to scale and (profitably!) feed Africa and the world:

# How might we inspire a new generation of agri-food enterprises across Africa?
# How might we better support agri-food entrepreneurs on their journey?
# How can we ensure small and growing businesses can access the capital they need to fulfill their growth potential?

Other serious people across the globe have been asked these same questions. Now let us hear from you. We are listening!

If you want to find out more, please check out Yara and Econet’s newly-released Landscape (research) Paper entitled: “Generation Africa – A Landscape Study: Youth Enterprise in Africa’s Agri-Food Sector.”



by 11 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

11 thoughts on “Seeking #Agripreneurs from “farm to fork” (and beyond)…

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    Many people make the mistake of seeing agriculture as nothing more than an activity of the rural poor, simply trying to survive. It is not, and should not be seen that way. Food alone is a multibillion dollar industry. The whole value chain of agriculture possesses as much potential for entrepreneurship as telecommunications or mining.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    Most of you know that just over 1bn people live in Africa today, and this will grow to 2bn+ by 2050 (the lifetime of many of the people who read my posts). Imagine the economic growth, business and job creation opportunities if Africa starts growing its own food instead of using scarce foreign currency to import $35bn of food each year (expected to rise to $110bn by 2025!!) It’s Africa after all which has the most (yet uncultivated) arable land remaining in the world…

    This is why the #GenerationAfrica initiative is so exciting to me! In your lifetimes, I think it will be Africa who will be feeding the world.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    On a visit to the Netherlands a few years ago, one of the leading professors in agriculture told me that “1 kg of tomato seed that we produce is worth more than 1 kg of gold”…

    When I did a tour of the Dutch horticultural industry a while back, some of the things that struck me:

    # The country is actually very small yet they have built a high value agriculture industry. They generate high income from such tiny plots of land!

    # At the time I visited they were exporting almost $10bn of vegetables every year. This is more than the GDP of many African countries!

    This is what I mean by opportunity… Now how can we take lessons learned from such places and help our smallholder farmers in Africa make more money for themselves?!

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    The foundation of Servant Leadership.

    “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” [The Message Translation of Matthew 20:25].

    When we lead others, let’s lead as “servant leaders”. Let’s not “throw our weight around”.
    Let’s not shout and scream at our employees and subordinates at work.

    One of the titles I hate being called is “boss”.
    I prefer to lead, and show the way.
    I hate “tough guy” leadership or management”. I cringe at anything authoritarian in the work place. I hate to be “feared” at work.

    Nelson Mandela is the greatest leader that Africa has produced to date. Even when he was upset he did not shout and scream, and never insulted or denigrated anyone.

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Tinashe Roxley Kagande writes,

    Dear Mr Masiyiwa (edited for obvious reasons that you should know):

    A few years back, maybe about 3 or 4 years back i told you about i venture i was interested in but instead you advised me to concentrate on my school. I listened and this year i will be graduating with a BSc Telecommunications degree with degree class 2.1.Duration of study has been long and hectic but it was all worth it. Thank you Strive for you advice not only did i make myself proud but my uncle, who happens to be my guardian.Of course what you have done with Econet has inspired me from a young age to study telecommunicationsand am glad to have developed a passion for it. Thank you sir and of course i hope to take my graduate training with Cassava or Econet Global
    · 9h

    My reply,
    I have asked the people at Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to consider you for an internship. You will have to be interviewed by them.
    It is the first step towards a full time job with them. It is also the gateway to opportunities within the group.
    They will have to make the decision, as I cannot direct them to employ anyone.
    I wish you well.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Joseph Muyeti writes,

    Joseph Gavin Nyanzi thanks dear namesake! I have read through the post and quite a bit of the comments…
    Great stuff… I hope more educated Africans will soon join us in the trenches… That’s why I flew back to Uganda from the Netherlands (I am a dual citizen…) to restart farming… The foundation was laid last year … The real work has kicked off this Jan 2019…!

    My reply,
    Last night I was asked if African entrepreneurs are returning from the cities to initiate projects in agriculture:
    “I said not only the cities but even from around the world.”
    The opportunities offered to entrepreneurs in Africa’s food sector is even drawing entrepreneurs from as far a field as the United States!
    My wife and I recently hosted a young man who left the US to start something called The One Acre Fund.
    His name is Andrew Youn. He is one of the greatest entrepreneurs, I have ever met in my entire life!
    Check him out!

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    #Condolences to Oliver Mutukudzi’s family and fans around the world!

    It is with deep sorrow that I have learnt of the passing Zimbabwean and one of Africa’s finest musicians, Oliver Mutukudzi.
    It was only a few months ago that he attended an event organized by my wife for The Africa Philanthropy Forum in Johannesburg.

    When I was a student at University in the UK, a friend and I were invited to an evening of South American music, and the most popular track was our dear Tuku!
    Needless to say we all danced, including my British friends!

    That is how universal he was even then.
    He will be greatly missed.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    You are being heard!
    On Monday I spent the whole day “pitching” to French government officials and global business leaders about the need to back young African entrepreneurs.
    Today here in Davos, I took up the same theme even before an audience that included Bill Gates.
    I will continue tomorrow with our live streaming event, which will be watched around the world.

    #It is why I’m here—To speak for you!

    This evening I spent several hours talking to a leading philanthropist. At one time I even took him through your comments from the series I did to #RE|Imagine|Rural!
    Not my comments, but YOUR comments!
    I showed him that young African entrepreneurs are ready to revolutionize African agriculture, if they are given the support.

    Your voice matters!

    Use this platform to speak about what you are doing, or what you want to see happen. The world is listening to YOU!

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ochor Favour Ogosita writes,

    Thank you Dr strive..

    My name is Ogosita Favour Ochor ..Founder Aloruov enterprises. We are the producer of AE COCONUT OIL(cold pressed) which has been duly certified by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control(NAFDAC) here in Nigeria.

    Our factory is located at plot 133 kuje area council Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

    Coconut oil is nature’s multipurpose oil which can be used for cooking, hair and skin care, for weight loss regimen, beauty regimen, for medicinal purposes. The uses are huge for those who are creative.

    The amazing uses and benefits of this nature’s goodness cannot be over-emphasized as it proves it self to the user.

    Our challenge now is that we need a larger space to enable us increase our output as the market is large.

    Currently..i visited the Nigeria Export Promotion Council and was given some directives on what to do regarding export of this our AE Coconut oil..we are working towards obtaining our license to start exporting to various nations.

    Thank you Sir for bringing #GenerationAfrica initiative which I know will benefit every entrepreneur out there.

    My reply,
    This is the way to Pitch!
    As more and more people come to the World #1Engagement site, to see what is exciting us, this is what is exciting us!

    Young entrepreneurs starting ventures like this!
    #Proud Dad!

  10. Stephen Kamugasa

    This is great stuff! And I wish you every success in your discussions about Agriculture in Africa. For I know for a fact that it is a viable proposition; my late father was in the agribusiness for a while, he exported produce to countries like German and France, in addition to being one of the leading suppliers of food in Kampala. But, alas, all that was destroyed owing to a small matter called governance. Therefore, in your discussions at Davos, it may be worth your while to pay attention to this small matter, namely, good governance, good public finances and the rule of law. And, in running my eye the breadth of your blog, I noticed mention of ‘servant leadership.’ I too am interested in servant leadership. You may like to take a look at my small contribution in my blogpost,”Bah! Humbug! Only a sissy is fit to be a servant leader!” Please see [ ]


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