Agribusiness managers in Africa are being trained under a new project, which delivers a range of agribusiness management training programmes backed by contextual research. The knowledge and skills gained can then be used to help farmers increase their agricultural productivity, quality of produce and profit margin, in turn improving their livelihoods.
The Agribusiness management programmes are led by the Association of African Business Schools (AABS), a non-profit association of leading business schools throughout Africa, and funded through a $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
As agriculture is at the core of Africa’s economic development the programme aims to develop new insights into African agriculture, enabling future leaders of Agribusiness to understand the way smallholder farmers operate.
The AABS says:
The Agribusiness management programmes will impart business, management and leadership skills to a range of stakeholders including development organizations, government agencies, agribusiness entities, farmer cooperatives and small and medium sized enterprise owners.
The objective is to produce a scalable model for leadership and management training for smallholder agribusiness entrepreneurs and goals for entrepreneurs are to increase turnover by at least 50% and improve consumer access.
The programme educates students through case studies and a variety of modules such as ICT innovation and financial management. It also benefits from a strong strategic advisory board which includes representation from key agricultural value chains and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Past alumni praise the scheme’s ability to transform smallholders into small businesses. One alumni says:
I’m no longer running a kitchen garden but in the business of making money. This programme changed our mindsets and the ballgame of how we operate.
The AABS currently has 29 alumni and is developing a network of innovative entrepreneurs to strengthen supply chains in Africa. The challenge ahead will be in increasing awareness of the opportunities that come from working for agricultural cooperatives.
Graduates are primarily interested in the big NGO’s and companies, yet the assets of dairy farmers are greater than the Nairobi Stock Exchange. There is a need for entrepreneurial leaders, not just entrepreneurs
The $1.5 million two-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help to develop the training programmes by enabling them to initiate an Agribusiness consortium of African business schools. The AABS Agribusiness Consortium now includes Universities in Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
More information on the Association of African Business schools can be found at: http://www.aabschools.com/
More information on Agribusiness Management Education in Africa can be found at: http://www.aagri.net/