Nestlé empowers young farmers in COMESA region.

Hillary Munedzi

Young farmers in the East and Southern African region (ESAR) walked away with mentorship and coaching opportunities totaling $30 000 in the Nestlé Needs Youth Initiative held in Johannesburg South Africa recently.

In celebrating International Youth Month, Nestlé Needs Youth Agri Competition, which ran from June to July 2022 received over 600 entries across the region with the top 10 finalists coming from South Africa’s; Sahaba Projects, Imbewu Farmers ,AgriNouri ,Guwela Farming ,Zsqaured projects and Kenya’s Sekgale Trading Enterprise; Melwax Farm Fresh ,Tuluk Honey Traders Baringo and Kokwa Island Beekeeper ,and from Uganda’s Kyaga Valley Mixed farms.

The initiative is aimed at empowering young people from Africa with apprenticeships, traineeships, and job opportunities and empowerment skills for survival, with Branson Center of Entrepreneurship South Africa’s Ignite Business Acceleratorfacilitating the prizes which will assist the three lucky winners in getting their business investor-ready and, ready to go to market.

Speaking during the media roundtable meeting, Nestlé ESAR HR Director, Athol Swanepoel highlighted the importance of youth in ensuring food security and sustainability in Africa.

“Young people are at the heart of regeneration and are our future. They are the entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow. In agriculture exists sustainable economic opportunities that youth can unlock and for a business such as ours they are opportunities to partner with these agribusinesses,” said AtholSwanepoel.

The goal of the initiative is to assist 10 million young people around the world access economic opportunities by 2030 through employment and employability, agripreneurship, andentrepreneurship while conserving the environment, contributing to economic development.

“Being the most youthful continent, Africa’s emerging status presents young people with a myriad of opportunities to reimagine the agricultural sector due to their affinity to innovation and technology.

The Branson Center ignite business accelerator programmeseeks to help entrepreneurs leave an impact on society, theenvironment, and the economy and this partnership with NestléESAR becomes most crucial in providing opportunities for our youth to thrive, ’’said Nwabisa Mayema, Strategic Partnership Director at Branson Center of Entrepreneurship, South Africa.

In 2011 Nestlé launched the Nestlé diary Empowerment Scheme (NDES) for commercial farmers in Zimbabwe and the programme was extended to small scale farmers’ networks in three institutions (Chitomborwizi, Watershed, and Agroprosperity Trust) with a total of over 70 individual farmerswith the aim of maintaining agricultural sustainability.

The first prize winner 26 year old Fellistus MmankopodiSekgale , of QueenAgri, in Sekhukhune district ,FetakgomoMunicipality in Mphanama Village ,South Africa, was awarded the IGNITE investment for scale Programme through the Branson Center of Entrepreneurship South Africa.

QueenAgri is an agribusiness that offers services and supply goods mainly to retailers in the Limpompo province of SouthAfrica which specialises in mixed farming on 20 hectares farmland which produces livestock and cash crops for supply.

Malvin Muna ,aged 29,of Melmax Farm Fresh took the second prize, his business is based in Kibwezi Town in the Makueni Country in Kenya while the third prize was awarded to John Wani,aged 29,of Kyega Valley Mixed Farms ,from Kiryandongodistrict in the Bunyoro sub-region ,Uganda.

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