Cameroon assists aspiring agri-preneurs to develop business plans

By Akanimo Sampson

ENABLE Youth Cameroon agri-preneurs with workshop facilitators.

Expert trainers from the ENABLE Youth Cameroon (EYC) programme are receiving and analysing the business plans of aspiring ‘agri-preneurs’ participating in the programme since May this yea.

They are currently assisting the agri-preneurs in finalising their business plans, which could be financed by a yet-to-be-determined investor.

As part of the business analysis phase of the programe, the trainers have trained aspiring agripreneurs on analysing agricultural value chains.

The agri-preneurs learned value chain mapping to identify feasible, viable, profitable, and sustainable business opportunities. They are also encouraging to select innovative business ideas with an emphasis on value addition, compared to similar businesses existing in the same sector.

Since the beginning of the business plan phase, the experts have received 223 business plans from the 512 agri-preneurs enrolled, which is about 50% of the expected number.

Although this phase is a major determinant in the program, some Youth Agribusiness Incubation Centers (YABICs) received as few as three business plans.

The development of the business plan is a crucial step for any aspiring entrepreneur that can help to deepen and concretise the creation of a business.

Also, the business plan is a document that shapes and summarizes this project and serves as an overview to present to potential investors. The Value Addition expert of EYC, Emmanuel Tchiengue, says “a well-developed business plan cannot lack funding.”

After the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and IITA signed an agreement to start the EYC programme in May 2018, a rigorous selection process produced 512 aspiring agri-preneurs, of which 45% were female.

This first set started their incubation in a sequenced process from February 2019, in 14 YABICs.

The incubation process of EYC was inspired by the IITA Youth Agri-preneur model, which follows a practical learning pattern with individuals making discoveries and getting experiences with first-hand knowledge, rather than hearing or reading about the experiences of others.

This learning model made it possible to provide practical experience to program participants while allowing them to quickly assimilate concepts through examples as close to real life as possible.

An essential part of this training was the strengthening of the entrepreneurial and managerial capacities of aspiring agri-preneurs, the development of agribusinesses, and the financing of start-ups by aspiring agri-preneurs by providing access to credit upon presentation of a bankable business plan.

Throughout this process, the experts stay fully engaged in providing the best support to incubates.

The EYC Marketing Expert, Eliane Mbida, says “many entrepreneurs fail, on average, almost four times before succeeding. What differentiates those who succeed from others is their perseverance.”

EYC recognizes the operational challenges and issues that the first set of 512 aspiring agripreneurs faced, including the extension of the incubation period to beyond the 12 months expected per batch.

Despite this, the EYC coordination unit continues to encourage the aspiring agri-preneurs noting that, “resilience is a key to success.”