Securing decent work for young people in Africa is critical given the large numbers of young people entering the labour force each year (about 11 million). With few opportunities for formal employment in manufacturing and services, agribusinesses offer young people the opportunity to earn income in rural areas. If others emulate them, there is the potential for positive regional spillovers. One institutional innovation that enables young people to mitigate financial and knowledge handicaps is contract farming. By supplying their produce to a third party (such as an agri-processor or retail outlet), which in return guarantees markets and often inputs, young workers are able to access credit, markets and technology. This can be a “win–win” solution because young workers gain access to markets, while the private company has access to produce without having to either acquire land or supervise labour. Fiscally constrained governments also benefit because private sector involvement obviates expenditure and reduces risks, and may also provide expertise unavailable in the public sector.
This report presents the lessons learned from a project in four East African countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – focusing on youth and their agribusinesses. In Burundi and Rwanda, poultry and eggs were sold to retailers but were also provided to schools to alleviate malnutrition. In Kenya and Uganda the focus was on fish farming, raising finfish in cages and selling fingerlings. Partnering with private companies enabled young people to obtain business and technical knowledge in addition to a market for their produce.