During their first year of university, three students realized the need to help farmers solve common challenges they encountered.¬
The students of African Leadership University are 20-year-old Daniela Uwase, and 24-year-old Kellyson Siamunjo — studying global challenges, and Peter Ndahiro, 24 — doing international business.
The trio was united by one thing, a passion for agriculture.
Last year, they came up with a social enterprise known as ‘Agriculture Growth Network’. It helps small and medium scale farmers increase their productivity and quality, and connects them to profitable and potential markets.
The trio recently participated in the Hult Prize, an annual competition that took place in Ghana in March this year. They emerged overall winner of the Africa level, making them representatives at the finals in London slated for July 12, this year.
The winners from the various continents will then compete for one million dollar cash prize as start-up for a business.
“We see this as an opportunity not only for Rwanda but for Africa in general; we believe we can grow to be a big scale solution for many communities,” Uwase says.
Uwase says she was looking at two things—farmers and the youth.
“Since I had little knowledge from secondary education on the agriculture sector, it was easy to tap into the idea and come up with what to focus on exactly,” she says.
She says after doing some research and visiting farmers, she realized that there are many challenges they encounter, from planting to harvest, making them yield less.
And so they train some unemployed youth in the best agriculture practices and agribusiness, and link them to farmers to act as “agro monitors”.
They also help connect the farmers to people who help them get agricultural products at affordable prices.
Their aim is to create over 10,000 jobs for the unemployed youth and impact the lives of over 15,000 small and medium scale farmers in Africa by 2029.
According to the trio, these farmers contribute more than 35 percent of the country’s Growth Development Product (GDP), but they are not realized as much.
For instance, they lack the required skills and resources for their farming to prosper.
The agricultural sector, Uwase says, doesn’t get as much attention as other sectors yet it’s the backbone of the country’s economy.
“My mission is to help farmers get what they need,” Uwase says.
The enterprise is already working with one cooperative comprising of 80 farmers in Bugesera District.
The platform also looks for the markets for the farmers, whereby, after selling the produce, shares are distributed between trainers, the company and the farmers.