New Project: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the key to a bright future in agriculture for youth in Burundi


Maastricht School of Management (MSM) in collaboration with Chambre Federal de Commerce et d’Industrie du Burundi (CFCIB) have been granted a new Tailor-Made-Training grant from Nuffic to carry out the project titled “Strengthening the appeal of a bright future in agriculture to youth through entrepreneurship and innovation”.

MSM will specifically work in this project with the Chambre Transversale des Jeunes Entrepreneurs du Burundi (CTJEBU), a department within the Burundian Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who focuses in particular on promoting youth entrepreneurship in the landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley.

Burundi’s youth represents an untapped source of economic growth and prosperity. Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 make up about 75% of Burundian’s population. But, the youth unemployment rate (60%) and underemployment remain stubbornly elevated as well.

The future in agriculture for youth is bright
It is estimated that 95% of Burundians work in the agricultural sector and at the same time 70% of the population is food insecure—due to lack of food production—and makes less than a dollar a day. Farmers in Burundi are among the poorest in the world.

Regarding youth there is a large, untapped reservoir of employment opportunities in the agri-food sector. Yet today’s youth live in a world facing a confluence of crises, including climate and environmental change and global inequalities in food security, nutrition, employment and human well-being. These existing trends have been highlighted and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which made the need for a radical transformation of global and local food systems even more pressing.

Poor access to land, natural resources, infrastructure, finance, technology and knowledge and low remuneration for workers and producers turn youth away from food systems. As a result, many feel that their best option is to migrate, either to urban areas or abroad. The CFCIB wants to strengthen the appeal of agriculture and food systems through entrepreneurship and innovation to young people to secure the future. Actions are needed to make the agri-food sector more attractive to young people and to promote their capacities to generate incomes.

Making youth more entrepreneurial to strengthen food security and boost economic growth
This TMT project will promote both youth entrepreneurship, food security and economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship. Worldwide innovation and start-ups fuel food security and economic growth. They are the ultimate job creators who start with ingenious ideas, take risks, and create value for the worldwide consumer.

In Burundi, there are fewer larger farms and many idle lands in the hands of few landowners. In addition, there is a need to strengthen agricultural productivity among farmers through innovative technologies addressing specific challenges such as ensuring biodiversity and dealing with climate-related environmental changes. Moreover, access to finance is still a challenge for young entrepreneurs in Burundi. Through this project the CFCIB and CTJEBU will be given the knowledge and skills to;

  1. Support young agricultural entrepreneurs in guiding and advising them on the right business opportunities
  2. Strengthen partnerships with youth associations, the private sector, knowledge institutions, financial institutions and NGO’s to promote youth entrepreneurship through entrepreneurship and innovation
  3.  Develop new financial products to enhance access to finance beyond the tradition microcredits and bank loans.  

To meet the above-mentioned goals the project has developed five different training sessions on;

  • Innovative Idea Development and Innovation through Design thinking in agriculture
  • Building and managing a business support organization and developing new financial products
  • Building effective Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)
  • Development of business incentives and support program to promote entrepreneurship
  • Female entrepreneurship and gender lens investing

The potential returns of investing in young people are boundless in terms of food security, poverty reduction, employment generation, as well as peace and political stability. Through this project MSM and the CFCIB take a first step to develop the knowledge and skills of officers to be able to tackle the bottlenecks that hold back young agricultural entrepreneurs to take their innovative business ideas to realization.

The ultimate goal in the long run is to harness the potential of young people to contribute to the transformation of the food system and achieve positive outcomes in terms of food security, poverty reduction, employment, and overall socio-economic development.

This project will be managed by Veerle Barten, Project Consultant at MSM’s Expert Centre on Emerging Economies and Alain Nkurikiye, Associate Consultant at MSM . The project will run from July 2023 until May 2024.

Orange Knowledge Programme
This project is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies

This institutional collaboration project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.‚Äč We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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