My name is Nawsheen Hosenally, co-Founder of Agribusiness TV and Managing Director of Agribusiness Shop, based in Burkina Faso. Many thanks to FAO and partners for this online consultation to hear from us. Below are my responses to the questions set for this discussion.
1. Experience as a Youth in the Agriculture Sector
How would you describe your experience as an Africa youth engaged in the agriculture sector in your country? What motivated you to engage into the agriculture sector?
My first contact with agriculture was at University for my undergraduate degree in Mauritius. Like many other youth, I did not plan to get into this sector or had a vision that I want to be a researcher, extension officer or agripreneur someday – I did not even know about these jobs, since they were not enough promoted or valorized at that time. I just wanted to do something different and chose to study agriculture. My passion for agriculture grew during my practical classes, internships and jobs in different areas: research, extension, sales, marketing, facilitation etc. In the process, I got interested in ICTs and their application in the agricultural sector. I started a blog and was writing about the agricultural sector and my field trips in Mauritius. Then I won essay and blog competitions on youth in agriculture organized by CTA from 2010-2012. From that point, I knew that I have a passion in digital communications in agriculture and have been working in this area in different capacities since my graduation in 2011. My contribution for this consultation is focused on my experience with Agribusiness TV and Agribusiness Shop in Burkina Faso.
Agribusiness TV is a web TV which aims at using videos as a promotion tool to (re)valorise agriculture and make the sector more attractive to youth by showcasing success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs and their innovations in Africa. The media was launched in May 2016, with the support of CTA. Agribusiness TV is available on its web and mobile applications in English and French versions.
Two years later, we created Agribusiness Shop, a physical and online shop whereby we market locally transformed agricultural products from young entrepreneurs and women associations from Burkina Faso, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali.
2. Major Achievements and Success Stories
What have been your major achievements? Do you have any experience or innovative ways that have helped you in your work that you would want to share? Do you have a success story – either your own or any other that you are aware of - of youth engaged in agriculture in your country? What is the story?
Major achievements for Agribusiness TV:
- Production of over 100 videos since its launch from 12 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Success stories of these entrepreneurs can be viewed on our website (http://agribusinesstv.info/en/) or YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/AgribusinessTV).
- The videos produced and disseminated have been viewed over 7 million times.
- Our network of young entrepreneurs and youth in agriculture is constantly growing. Currently, we have 174,000 fans on Facebook, 13,000 subscribers on YouTube, and our mobile apps have had over 7,000 downloads.
- Agribusiness TV also won several awards and distinctions including the WSIS project prize in the media category organized by ITU in 2017, and the First Prize of the Francophone Media Innovation Award organised by the International Francophone Organisation (OIF), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Radio France Internationale (RFI) to “encourage new forms of media” in the Frenchspeaking world.
- After 2 years of operation, Agribusiness TV is no more running on grants, but rather working as a service provider in video production on agriculture in Africa.
- We have recently partnered with a local TV station in Burkina Faso, whereby a bimonthly TV magazine called “Voir c’est croire” (seeing is believing) will be broadcasted as from October 2018. This will enable us to reach out to youth who are not connected to the Internet from the different countries that have Canal+ cable television channel
Another achievement was been the setting up of Agribusiness Shop through self-funding which is operational since April 2018. The initial products sold in the shop were from entrepreneurs that were showcased in videos produced by Agribusiness TV. The shop represents a new marketing channel for young entrepreneurs and women associations. It also brings locally transformed products closer to the consumers, who before had access to these products only during fairs and expos. Over 60 products are available currently at Agribusiness Shop and we are gradually increasing the number of products and suppliers.
3. What the Rwanda Youth Conference Should Address
If given an opportunity, what question would you ask the experts at the Rwanda Youth conference on each of the three sub-themes –
a). Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship,
With efforts from different stakeholders over the years, the issue of making agriculture more attractive to youth is slowly being addressed. From my own observation and experience, I see every day that youth have an interest to venture in agribusiness/agricultural entrepreneurship, but many of them don’t know where to start from and in which sub-sector to venture. How do we move from awareness raising to actually have enterprises created and upscaled in a sustainable manner? In my opinion, rather than aiming to support many small initiatives to get youth involved in agribusiness, it will be better to identify existing enterprises that have proved to be working and support these entrepreneurs to scale-up their business. In-turn, these entrepreneurs can mentor the new ones venturing in the sector. All these would require good coordination and collaboration among different stakeholders.
b). Digital Innovation to Overcome Agriculture Value-Chain Constraints
ICTs have huge potential to make agriculture more productive and profitable. However, over the years, many applications are being or have been developed through hackathons and other competitions, but very few of them are actually able to go beyond break-even point because their business models are flawed. How do we measure success from the ICT4Ag initiatives that currently exist? What should be the indicators? Who are those who are still operating without grants and funds from competitions? How did they make it? When it comes to digital solutions, we have to be careful about sustainability, which is currently a huge problem.
c). Future of Work in Rural Economy.
Rural areas have their own reality, but challenges exist even in cities. In entrepreneurship, it’s important to have a good business environment. When deprived from access to good roads, electricity, Internet, and services such as banks, you cannot be competitive on the market. Hence, these must be taken into account when the roadmap is made during the conference.
I'll end by thanking CTA and FAO for inviting Agribusiness TV to the conference. We'll contribute more at the event.