Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI)

FAO and Rikolto accompany young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector in Senegal


Today marks the end of a two-day workshop organized by FAO and the NGO Rikolto in Dakar to enhance multi-stakeholder dialogue aimed at increasing responsible investment by and for youth-led Very Small, Small and Medium Enterprises (VSE/SMEs). The ultimate objective is to strengthen the capacities of all actors involved in enhancing youth sensitive responsible investment in agriculture in Senegal and accelerate progress towards sustainable development.

The multi-stakeholder meeting brought together 15 young agri-entrepreneurs and 22 representatives of different institutions including youth organizations, government agencies, financial institutions, and research and training institutions. The main outcome of the meeting was the validation of the main challenges and proposed solutions for stimulating sustainable investments by and in young agri-entrepreneurs.

"This workshop provided an opportunity to analyze the constraints and needs of youth-led agribusiness in several key areas of agricultural entrepreneurship development in Senegal. It provided young people with tools and stimulated dialogue between agri-businesses and state structures in order to lay the foundations for a sustainable multi-stakeholder collaboration process," said Awa Caba, president of the Yesaal AgriHub, the first AgriTech and Agribusiness Hub in Senegal created by a multidisciplinary group of young people. 

Identifying challenges and opportunities for young agri-entrepreneurs

This multi-stakeholder dialogue follows a previous workshop carried out on 28-30 September, which focused on strengthening the capacities of young agri-entrepreneurs' networks and organizations to engage in policy dialogue.

During this first gathering, FAO and Rikolto presented findings from a study on mapped youth-led VSE/SMEs operating in Senegal, as well as their organizational and operational capacity needs. The study report also highlights some key needs of the youth around the enabling environment for agripreneurship in Senegal.

The workshop allowed young agri-entrepreneurs' networks and organizations to identify common priorities. As a result, nine technical working groups were created to advance on key strategic themes that will be pivotal in designing actionable solutions.

Members of the Senegalese National Youth Council stressed that: “Youth must stay united in order for our voices to be heard. We must build on our strengths to transform agriculture.”

VSE/SMEs and their great potential to transform agriculture and improve food security

VSE/SMEs play a key role in Senegal and elsewhere in Africa in terms of wealth generation and are an important provider of employment. In this context, young agri-entrepreneurs are an essential source of innovation and have a particular potential to increase the productivity of the agricultural sector. At the same time, they could play a major role in transforming the agricultural sector into a more sustainable model, capable of providing a future for young African farmers while ensuring long-term and safe supply of food in Africa and beyond.

However, in order to leverage this potential, the capacity of all stakeholders to empower youth need to be strengthened and structural barriers facing youth such as difficulties in accessing land, financial services and decision-making forums, surmounted. In parallel, it is paramount to improve the quality of agricultural investments and ensure that they are “responsible” as defined by the globally recognized CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems.

These activities carried out in Senegal under the FAO Umbrella Programme Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems and in partnership with the Integrated Country Approach for promoting decent rural employment