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Monday, 7 July 2014

Increasing access to finance for young agro entrepreneurs

By Bob Aston
The Fin4Ag Conference: revolutionising finance for agri-value chains, which will take place at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies in Nairobi from 14 – 18 July 2014 is set to provide an opportunity for deliberation on increasing access to finance for young agro entrepreneurs: Innovation models and replication issues.
Discussions on the issue are set to take place on 16th July at Chui Hall during session [S39]. This session will discuss the development and sustained replication of innovative models of youth inclusive agricultural finance services, throughout the entire value chain.
Youth farmer tending to his crops
Lack of financial services is one of the key challenges faced by youths. This has significantly contributed to lack of livelihood opportunities among youths.
The session will help to look at ways of enhancing initiatives aimed at securing capital for young agro entrepreneurs. The session will also cover key issues such as capacity building on financial services, promotion of public-private pro-youth financial services, and opportunities offered by ICTs.

Youths are particularly vulnerable to economic problems. They often do not have access to savings account, credit or insurance but in them also lies a large untapped opportunity that can help address unemployment which has remained one of the most daunting challenges in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. Lack of collateral has also been a big hindrance to young agro entrepreneurs as it has made it difficult for youths to obtain financing. The session will help youths to understand how to overcome such challenges.
Financial access would go a long way towards bringing financial innovation to the youths but this has been a problem mainly due to restrictions in the legal and regulatory environment, inappropriate and inaccessible financial products offered by financial institutions and poor financial capabilities of the youth.
Need to increase the financial capability of youths is of utmost importance as financial institutions rarely treat them as “clients” but rather as “beneficiaries.”. Most financial institutions also prefer to finance businesses with higher and immediate profitability.
Capacity building on financial services which is one of the issues that will be discussed will help in viewing youths as an opportunity rather than risk. It is clear that there is need of growing interest in youth financial services as a means of financial inclusion.
Inclusive agricultural finance services, throughout the entire value chain will help to strengthen the credit worthiness of youths hence leading to improved financial capability.
It will be interesting to hear from the winner of ICT4Ag Hackathon on how to share innovation and find market. Mr. Opio Obwangamoi David, CEO and the Founder of Ensibuuko Company Limited is set to be among the main speakers during the session.
Many young innovators who dream of contributing to agricultural and rural development certainly need to attend the session to learn how Mr. Opio has managed to provide an ultimate solution to small scale holder rural farmers.
The session will help young agro entrepreneurs to learn how to take greatest advantage of the financial services available. Promotion of public-private pro-youth financial services will certainly help agro entrepreneurs to access appropriate financial products.
According to a report released by World Bank in January 2014 titled Youth Employment in Sub- Saharan Africa, eleven million youths are expected to enter Africa’s labour market every year for the next decade. The report argues that scaling up support to access opportunities when they arise is essential in empowering the youth.
If you will be attending the Fin4Ag Conference, do not miss this youth session! Join the discussion in Room Chui on Wednesday 16th July from 16:00 – 17:30. Live tweets will also be sent from the session with the hashtags #Fin4Ag14 #S39.
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