AfDB enhances Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment Youth Programs for greater impact

The ENABLE Youth program helps young African men and women access financing to grow their enterprises

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Group photo of workshop participants

The African Development Bank successfully concluded a three-day workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, aimed at enhancing its Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Program in preparation for its next phase.

The ENABLE Youth program helps young African men and women access financing to grow their enterprises. Currently active in 15 countries with investments exceeding $490 million, and benefiting around 40,000 youths, the program has emerged as a transformative force in fostering entrepreneurship and tackling youth unemployment.

Held from 3rd-5th of April 2024, the workshop allowed Bank staff to assess the program’s progress and draw valuable lessons for future initiatives in the Regional Member Countries. There were around 45 participants, including Bank staff managing ENABLE Youth projects, government officials coordinating the projects, beneficiary youth agripreneurs, and development and private sector partners.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Nnenna Nwabufo, Director General for East Africa at the African Development Bank, underscored the pivotal role of the youth in advancing agriculture in Africa.

Nwabufo stated: “Africa can feed itself, however, we are importing food from outside the continent. Through empowering Africa’s youth, the Program is changing that story. The Program has demonstrated its potential to catalyze economic growth, create opportunities for young Africans, and drive sustainable development.”

Millicent Omukaga, Principal Policy Analyst at the Bank, highlighted the imperative of skills development and job creation in leveraging Africa’s demographic dividend. She called for a renewed focus on entrepreneurship and private sector engagement in the program’s future extensions.

Dr. Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-industry at the Bank, highlighted the role of agriculture in unlocking Africa’s economic potential and empowering its youth. “By equipping them with the necessary skills, technologies, resources, and support, we can harness the demographic dividend and transform the agricultural sector to make it more efficient and competitive and to become a driver of inclusive growth and prosperity,” Fregene said.

Dr. Damian Ihedioha, Manager for Agro-Industry and Agribusiness, stressed the importance of addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by youth agripreneurs. “Moving forward, we must adopt holistic approaches that address barriers to entry, access to finance, and market linkages to ensure the sustained success of our youth-led agribusiness ventures,” he reiterated.

Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist and ENABLE Youth Coordinator, underscored the collaborative nature of the program’s success, emphasizing the need for strengthened partnerships and collective action to maximize its impact.

The workshop concluded with a commitment to continue fostering an enabling ecosystem for youth empowerment, incubation, access to finance, and digitalization to drive sustainable development across the continent.