Agribusiness Provides a Path to Youth Employment in Africa
Young entrepreneurs like Audrey Allotey are starting and growing food businesses that provide key products and create jobs in their communities.
The agricultural sector in many parts of Africa provides large potential to create economic opportunity for youth. However, youth are increasingly moving away from agriculture and rural areas to find employment in urban areas. Rural youth often do not consider agribusinesses as a viable option for employment. Yet increasing employment on farms and in value chains is a necessary component to creating a sustainable and inclusive food system.
The African Youth Agripreneurship Program (AYAP), funded in partnership with Barclays Africa, is working to encourage youth employment in the agribusiness. The program, which began in January of 2015, seeks to provide technical and business skills to youth operating businesses within the agricultural value chain, such as food processing and farming, as well as improving their access to markets and finance.
The program provides support to start-up businesses, as well a serving as a business accelerator to established businesses, which have been in operation for more than three years and have high growth potential for expansion and creating youth employment. The program has worked with 20 potential entrepreneurs.
Frustrated with the time-consuming nature of cooking her meals due to a lack of ready made ingredients, Audrey Allotey, a single and very busy woman entrepreneur realized that Ghanaian culture was shifting to faster-paced lifestyle, where the time for cooking at home meals has become limited.
With that in mind, the then 29-year-old launched Audylot Company Limited, which provides ready-to-use spices and flavoring products to eager Ghanaian consumers, in 2012. However, in the beginning, Audrey struggled to get financing to grow her business,stagnating in the start-up phase.
Audrey found support from AYAP and TechnoServe’s Enhancing Growth in New Enterprises (ENGINE) program, which provided her with technical and financial support to grow the business. Today the company has seen production capacity increase by 50 percent. She has also been able to hire five permanent staff members, all women and mothers, and has up to 10 casual workers when production is high.
In addition, she has managed to gain traction in Ghana’s high-end supermarkets because of her natural product, which is free of preservatives and additives, appealing to the health conscious consumer. Audrey has big plans for her growing company. She has taken steps in developing a sustainable sourcing strategy, as well as improving product traceability.
“This business venture allows me to merge a variety of passions, and by doing so, I am able to improve the lives of my employees,” said Audrey.