Africa is home to nearly one-fourth of the world’s agricultural land, but its cultivators register only one-sixth production capacity compared to their colleagues in the United States, China, and the Eurozone.1 Dare to Innovate’s Agropreneur Incubation Program aims to change that reality.
While thousands of Guinean youth graduate university every year, the job market is stark: 61% of Guinean university graduates are unemployed. This segment of the population — educated, unemployed youth — is arguably Guinea’s most tragically untapped resource. Alongside these national unemployment statistics, Guinea’s vast, potential-rich agricultural landscape also remains shockingly underutilized. According to the World Bank, 58% of Guinea’s land is agricultural, but in 2011 Guinea’s Agriculture Value Added Per Worker (a measure of agricultural productivity) was the third worst in the world. Particularly for Guinea, the intersection of agricultural growth and economic development is inescapable—agriculture was responsible for a quarter of GDP in 2010, and about three fourths of employment.
With many social problems facing the country, the nation recognizes business development as a vehicle through which a myriad of social issues may be addressed, specifically those in the agricultural and food security sectors. This is the crossroads at which Dare to Innovate enters: the intersection of social challenge and economic potential. Dare to Innovate incubates a small number of promising, young entrepreneurs with expertise in agriculture that are looking to turn their skills into a social business. The program typically consists of a five-month residency with one-on-one guidance from mentors and experts in both entrepreneurship and agriculture, as well as staff of Dare to Innovate implementation partners. Each participating agropreneur uses Dare to Innovate’s design thinking-based curriculum to ideate and test various agribusiness ideas on a plot of land provided by the agropreneur program. At the end of the five-month incubation period, the participating agropreneurs will be eligible for potential seed funding based on their documented progress and completed business plan.
In supporting agronomists and conservationists with entrepreneurship training, Dare to Innovate catalyzes business that have real, positive social impact. The program introduces youth to new ideas and improved agricultural techniques that they then share with other farmers, increasing yield, food quality and therefore, the food security of the entire community.