CABE YALI Design Challenge inspires university student to be an agri-preneur

The Center for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) was recently selected to offer technical advisory services to evaluate the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) cohort 23 participants in pushing forward the apprenticeship policy framework on youth employment creation in agriculture and agro processing. This collaboration developed as part of the project that CABE is hosting on Utafiti Sera project in conjunction with Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR) on youth employment creation in agriculture and agro processing.

 Brief of Cabrine Nyona

YALI 23 cohort participants

Cabrine Nyona is a third-year student pursuing Bachelor of Economics at the University of Nairobi (UoN) and a participant of Young African Leaders Initiative East Africa Regional Center cohort 23 Alumni. She is also a leader in the auditor general for the Economic Students Association at UoN. Currently, she volunteers as an educator and an assistant researcher for the African Maths Initiative, where I focus on Digital Community Integration in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya.

  1. Briefly explain your experience at YALI RLC and explain what was involved in the CABE-YALI design challenge.

My experience at Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center (YALI RLC) was transformative particularly narrowing down to the design challenge presented to us by the Centre for African Bio-Entrepreneurship (CABE) team for the Civic Leadership track during the first week. The task in question was ‘How can we design and implement an apprenticeship framework that enhances youth employment creation in both the formal and informal systems of agriculture and agro-processing in Kenya?’ We were expected to design an apprenticeship framework that incorporated both the formal and informal sector in agriculture and agro-processing in Kenya in a span of less than three weeks! This was to be done in our teams and pitched during the last week of the program to CABE. At first it seemed like an uphill task because I didn’t have any speciality in agriculture and had never done any pitching before.

 

To start off, sessions on design thinking facilitated by Nasreen and Danny from BlueSky innovations were an eye opener on how to tackle the task. The two-day workshop provided the foundation on Human-Centred Design through the five-step process to design solutions. These were empathize, define and ideate, prototype and test.

 

Later, we started working on the actual task in designing the apprenticeship framework using the five-step process on design thinking facilitated by Kiran from Amani Institute. The findings were shocking in that agriculture accounts for 35% of Kenya’s GDP, 35 % youth are unemployed yet 64% are exiting! Agriculture is deemed unattractive compared to white-collar jobs according to majority’s mindset. The youth in the informal sector are often sidelined or segregated in youth policies regarding agriculture. Hence, we designed an apprenticeship framework that countered the odds and pitched it on the last day. My team (Nancy-Kenya, Derrick-Uganda and Charles-Uganda) and I came in second!

 

  1. What did you learn from the challenge and what were the results?

The design challenge was a game changer, more importantly it brought dynamic young African leaders from different countries together with one common goal to contribute their ideas on agriculture. Indeed, there’s Unity in Diversity. My major insight was how to apply Design Thinking in addressing human-centred challenges. Every stakeholder from grass root level to corporate level is relevant in agriculture and agro-processing hence there is need to synergize and harmonize resources for equitable and balanced development. Personally, I learnt that I had untapped potential in terms of creativity.

Moreover, from the prototypes and research I realised that more youth would be involved in agri-preneurship if they could easily access mechanized tools, have information on how to handle post-harvest losses and how to practice specialized agriculture. Informal youth being a major stakeholder in agro-economy they should be given equal opportunities as apprentices in small or large scale corporations. In her opinion, in a bid to attract more youth in agriculture and agro –processing, it advisable that the multi-sectors offers them tenders and contract to motivate them to get into the sector.

  1. What is your parting shot?

As a change maker and advocate for youth development, I pledge to train and mentor her colleagues to change their attitudes towards agriculture and view it as any other profession that can generate income. Ms Nyona appreciated the efforts by CABE who are on the frontline advocating for youth employment creation in agriculture through the challenge and encourages more stakeholders to rise to the occasion. Such nascent efforts are needed to strengthen national policies like Kenya’s Vision 2030 as well as global efforts such as the Sustainable Development Goals(SDG) that are premised on human capital development through the empowerment of youth, young adults and other groups that are marginalized.

 

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