Decent Rural Employment

Regional Youth Forum on the theme “Youth space in policy and financial inclusion”, 27th -28th November 2019 Kampala, Uganda


12 December 2019 - Young agripreneurs from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, government institutions and multiple financial and business service providers met in Kampala, Uganda, on 27th -28th November 2019. The Regional Youth Forum aimed at unlocking the bottlenecks that inhibit youth access to policy dialogue and finance through an inclusive dialogue process.

The regional forum was organized by the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF), in partnership with FAO and IFAD. Around fifty young agripreneurs attended the forum, together with staff from EAFF, FAO and IFAD, representatives from youth, finance and agriculture Ministries, agribusiness incubators, and financial service providers.

The theme of the forum was the youth space in policy and financial inclusion. Accessing adapted financial services is one of the main challenges faced by the youth in their journey to initiate a business. The availability of such services is frequently constrained by a range of factors, such as physical accessibility, affordability, eligibility and limitative legislative frameworks. In particular, youth encounter multiple challenges when trying to access funds for start-ups or upscaling of their enterprises. They face difficulties in meeting the eligibility criteria stipulated by financial service providers, such as documentation and collateral requirements. Furthermore, high transaction fees or excessive interest rates restrict their access to finance.

At the same time, rural youth have only limited representation in policy dialogue and governance mechanisms. The reasons for this are multiple and range from the limited organization and capacities of the rural youth to the lack of institutional spaces.The result is that the youth, especially those in rural areas and engaged in the agricultural sector, do not find the space and opportunities to voice their concerns and propose innovative solutions, for instance in terms of affordable financial products.

The two challenges mentioned above need to be urgently addressed. In spite of a stable economic environment and good prospects of growth, the countries’ economy in Eastern Africa are not creating enough jobs to absorb the growing working age population. In particular, more should be done to harness the potential of the agri-food sector to contribute to the creation of decent jobs. For this to happen, governments, civil society and development partners have to join forces in order to remove the constraints that limit the effective engagement of youth, especially as agripreneurs.

The youth attending the regional forum proposed concrete recommendations to address these challenges. They include, among others: i. enhancing information sharing and youth-learning opportunities (ex. on financial literacy or climate change), also through a regional communication platform for the three countries; ii. ensuring more evidence based policy development and implementation based on the lessons learnt from other countries; iii. promoting partnerships between financial institutions, youth, incubators, and the public sector in support of more adapted and flexible youth-specific financial services (ex. piloting de-risking mechanisms), iv. replicating the youth champion model piloted in Uganda with FAO support in other countries, v. training young farmers and agripreneurs in soft skills to better advocate at policy level, and vi. improving communication and knowledge sharing between youth representative at national level and local youth. 

In the closing remarks, FAO, IFAD and EAFF confirmed their continued support to youth employment and engagement in agricultural value chains and will also continue to engage partners (those who attended the workshop and others) on partnerships opportunities for supporting the recommendations emerged from the young participants.