As part of Africa Lead’s mandate to usher in the next generation of change agents and leaders in the agricultural sector, the project provides opportunities for youth to gain practical experience and entrepreneurial skills. This work will in turn support youth-led agribusinesses and organizations to innovate, improve their commercial viability, and drive investment in the agricultural sector. For instance, to support the development of the youth workforce in Ghana, Africa Lead relaunched its Agribusiness Internship Program (A-LEAP Internships) in FY17 Q2. Through the program, Africa Lead reached out to over 100 agribusinesses, inviting them to participate in building Africa’s next generation of agriculture entrepreneurs, thinkers, and innovators by committing to creating critical and strategic youth employment opportunities through internships. The vision of the program is that these internships will offer unique leadership development opportunities for students and recent graduates that include training, on-the-job experiences, and specialized skills transfer.
During FY17 Q2, approximately 40 agriculture- oriented companies and organizations expressed interest in the A-LEAP Internship Program, including small and medium-sized agribusinesses involved in commercial production, processing, and distribution (e.g., Eden Tree, Samba Foods, Joekopan, Cluster Farming), input and machinery suppliers (e.g., Farmer’s Hope, Lasorex), trade associations (e.g., Federation of Associations of Ghanaian Exporters, World Cocoa Foundation), business advisory service providers (Growth Mosaic, Farmerline, MDF West Africa), and nongovernmental organization (NGO) initiatives supporting agricultural ventures (iDe Ghana, IWAD, West Africa Resilience Innovation Lab). Africa Lead also participated in career fairs at Lancaster University and Ashesi University this quarter to showcase the project’s work and to establish a recruitment platform for the A-LEAP Internship Program. Africa Lead plans to place approximately 100 youth in internships by the end of the fiscal year.
Africa Lead further supports youth workforce development through its grant program in Ghana. For instance, the African Youth Network for Agricultural Transformation (AYNAT) officially launched its Growing Sustainable Horticulture (GrowS-Hort) Incubator during FY17 Q2. The launch served as a platform to raise awareness about start-up business opportunities in agriculture and to educate the public about a new business promotion model that is still relatively unknown in Ghana. AYNAT invited government officials, representatives from the Youth Employment Agency, students, recent graduates, the private sector, and the media to participate in the launch. The event also provided a networking opportunity for incubatees to meet and exchange ideas with business owners, the head of the Agribusiness Unit at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and other like-minded youth who are considering agribusiness ventures.