Driving Economic Growth: ANJE’s Pioneering Northern Mozambique Agribusiness and Youth Conference

Agribusiness in northern Mozambique is a vital sector, as agriculture forms the economic backbone for much of the population. The sector’s significant growth potential, bolstered by international and government investments, can create jobs and drive economic development. Agribusiness encompasses diverse activities such as production, processing, and marketing, offering various opportunities for young entrepreneurs and fostering innovation and resilience within the agricultural value chain.

The National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), in collaboration with the FTF Premier-Oholo (PRO) project, jointly funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and implemented by TechnoServe, successfully organized the First Regional Agribusiness and Youth Conference in the Northern region of Mozambique. Held on April 25-26 in the Municipality of Nampula, the conference aimed to mobilize local authorities and stakeholders to support youth entrepreneurship in the Nacala Corridor, an area full of business opportunities yet lacking structured efforts to engage and empower young entrepreneurs.

Approximately 500 people attended the first ANJE conference to be held in northern Mozambique, including 389 youth and 116 youth-led enterprises coming from the provinces of Cabo-Delgado, Niassa, Nampula and Zambézia. Key representatives from local government, development agencies, and educational institutions were also in attendance. Elvis Saide, ANJE’s Delegate in Nampula, remarked, “It is a dream come true for young entrepreneurs in the northern region of Mozambique. Th youth have always looked forward to it [conference] in the north, and it exceeded all expectations.”

FTF Premier-Oholo’s matching contribution was essential to bring to reality this much needed conference that facilitated important connections with prominent businesses, financial institutions, government and key private sector organizations in the northern region of Mozambique. This collaborative conference aimed to create a platform for networking and knowledge-sharing, enhancing young entrepreneurs’ access to finance, markets, and support services. The conference also provided a forum for youth from various provinces to network and collaborate, setting the stage for continuous efforts to nurture youth entrepreneurship in the region.

Distinguished guests included the Governor of Nampula Province, Mozambique Government Officials, representatives from development organizations, including the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and TechnoServe’s country director, and leaders from notable universities such as UniLúrio and Unirovuma.


Governor of Nampula, Manuel Rodrigues during his opening speech at the ANJE’s conference

The success of this conference underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in driving youth entrepreneurship. The government of Nampula is committed to supporting initiatives that empower our young people and unlock the economic potential of the Nacala Corridor”, explained the Government of Nampula, Manuel Rodrigues.

On the second day of the conference, Nito Matavel, representing the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on behalf of the FTF Premier-Oholo’s donors, delivered the welcome speech. He highlighted the significance of empowering young entrepreneurs for Mozambique’s economic development. “Our support for this initiative is rooted in the belief that empowering young entrepreneurs is crucial for the economic development of Mozambique. The success stories emerging from this conference are a testament to the resilience and creativity of these young minds. We are aware that the challenges faced by young entrepreneurs are varied and cannot be exhausted in this conference. However, for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), this ANJE Conference serves not only as a showcase of the creative, entrepreneurial, and resilient capacity of young entrepreneurs from Northern Mozambique, but also as an opportunity to discuss the adversities and opportunities they encounter.” – Nito Matavel, Representative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

Empowering Female Agri-Entrepreneurship

Picture of Agrovet Serviços Limitada representative, Noémia Miguel Celestina, during her pitch session at the first conference organized by ANJE in the northern region of Mozambique.

One of the notable success stories from the conference is Noemia Celestino, a young entrepreneur leading Agrovet & Serviços Limitada, an agribusiness supplying agricultural inputs and veterinary products. Noemia faced challenges in securing working capital to expand her business. However, before the conference,  Noemia participated in a series of training sessions on financial literacy and business management with FTF Premier-Oholo’s support, to help her prepare for this important moment.

On April 25, Noemia pitched her business plan at the conference and successfully secured a credit of around $3,000 USD from GAPI, a local microfinance institution. This financial boost enabled Agrovet to expand its network of Village-Based Agents and significantly increase its client base. “I am already reaping results from the conference,” Noemia stated. She highlighted how the conference facilitated new partnerships and business opportunities, with plans to expand further and inspire other young entrepreneurs.

 “The initiative of the regional conference is to be celebrated, as it has brought numerous benefits and opportunities. As an entrepreneur, it has challenged me to think differently about how to make changes in my business and within my community. It was through the conference that I came to understand that anything is possible, you just have to believe in it and do what you want with focus and determination. Together we are stronger and together we can do more.” Noémia Clestino 
Nito Matavel, Representative of the Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation (SDC) facilitating an open discussion with youth  

Strengthening MSMEs Through Training and Investment

The FTF Premier-Oholo project also focused on addressing the challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in securing finance and accessing markets. By providing intensive business management training and Business Development Services (BDS) sessions prior to the conference, the project equipped entrepreneurs with the necessary skills to develop robust business plans and pitch presentations to help sell their business ideas and create the linkages they need to succeed.

During the conference, 35 prepped companies participated in pitch sessions, with significant interest from financial institutions. Within the month following the event, four companies secured investments totaling 4,680,000 MZN (approximately 72,600 USD), and 14 partnerships were formalized. This success underscores the viability and finance-worthiness of youth-led business ideas in the Nacala Corridor.

The tailored training and mentorship provided by the FTF Premier-Oholo project were instrumental in these achievements. ANJE continues to support the conference participants, leveraging established networks and partnerships to offer ongoing mentorship and identify further funding opportunities.

“The First Regional Agribusiness and Youth Conference has demonstrated the incredible potential of young entrepreneurs in Mozambique. By providing them with the right tools and connections, we are not only fostering individual success but also driving sustainable economic growth in the Nacala Corridor” Barbora Hladka , Country Director of TechnoServe and interim Director of FTF Premier-Oholo project.
Barbora Hladka, Country Director of TechnoServe and interim CoP of FTF Premier-Oholo project on the left and Raul Pitoro, Technical Director of FTF Premier-Oholo’s project during the discussions on the ANJE’s regional conference. 

The First Regional Agribusiness and Youth Conference, marked a significant milestone in empowering youth entrepreneurship in northern Mozambique. The conference successfully mobilized local authorities and stakeholders, provided essential training and mentorship, and facilitated critical business connections and investments. As a result, young entrepreneurs in the region are better equipped to drive economic growth and contribute to sustainable development. ANJE and FTF Premier-Oholo’s collaborative efforts continue to foster an environment where youth-led businesses can thrive, ensuring a bright future for the Nacala Corridor and beyond.