I Have A Vision (IHAV) Foundation's project conference for 2014 has gradually wound to a close.
The conference which opt to bring together Africa's youth on one platform to deliberate on how
to make a sustainable agribusiness revolution across Africa was under the theme "CREATING AN
AGRIBUSINESS REVOLUTION WITH AFRICA'S YOUTH". The conference which took place at the African
Guest House and Conference hall, North Legon, hosted 50 youth leaders and visionaries from
across Africa including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Kenya, Cameroun, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Gambia
and Guinea, for 4 days from 30th July to 2nd August 2014.
Speakers and facilitators of the conference came from all sectors of the economy to impart knowledge to these expectant participants and challenge them to go out to explore the opportunities in the agric sector. They included Ms Eva Lokko - former Director General of GBC, John Armah - Founder of GCEEI, Ehi Benitie - CTO and co-founder of Rancard Solutions, Sara Nana Yeboah - Nurse and Vice President Of The Sangy Foundation, Sherrie Thompson - Chief Executive Officer of Global Resolve Africa, Charles Sam - Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Golden Future Promotions, Dr Gheysika Agambilla - Former minister of state, and Edison Gbenga - West African Regional Director for YALDA and Team lead of AGRIPRO.
The topics treated included "PURSUING ONE'S VISION", "HOW TO DRAW UP A BUSINESS PLAN", "GLOBALIZING OUR MARKETS", "AGRIC AND HEALTH", "IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE", "TACKLING YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT", "AGRIBUSINESS PROJECTS", "EMBRACING ICT", "SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP", "COMMERCIALIZING AGRIC PRODUCTS", "SMALL SCALE ENTERPRISES IN AGRIC", and "MAKING AGRIC ATTRACTIVE".
The participants were engaged in a series of roundtable discussions, lectures, group work and other activities including visits to agric-related organisations like Esoko, Jekora Ventures, ASNAPP and the National Service Demonstration farms to give them an in-depth insight and the practical reality on the ground. The outlined program of the conference helped them to look for and identify opportunities in the already existing agricultural sector and ways to improve it, as well as bring out practical ideas on how to bridge gaps and make agriculture attractive to the youth and investors.
At the conference, participants were placed in groups and given challenges to tackle on the role of the youth in driving sustainability in Agric. They were tasked to come up with simple feasible ideas and concepts that would help improve the agric sector and also get more young people engaged in this very open market. On the fourth day of the conference, each group was called to pitch to a panel of experts after which the best pitched ideas were announced. 2 projects focused on improved transport services and agribusiness awareness and advocacy programs were selected by the panel.
Speaking to the brain behind the conference on reason for the conference and why it was started, Ms Christabel Ofori, a chemical engineer who is passionate about youth development mentioned that being a young person herself, she had interacted with too many young people who only complained about the negatives in their communities and countries and yet did nothing on their own to help improve the conditions. The conference was therefore started to serve as a platform where young Africans can come together to dialogue, share ideas and be empowered to start their own social enterprises that will improve the quality of life in their communities, whiles providing jobs for themselves and others. The overall vision is to build the capacities of the youth to enable them put their ideas into action, as a step in tackling the high youth unemployment rates in Africa.
"The saying that young people are the future leaders of a country is not a "cliche" so, as young people you should unite and work with each other by creating jobs for yourselves. In this new era is all about the youth creating more jobs for the youth" these are the words of Ms Eva Lokko at the just ended event. 'Nigeria is now struggling to revamp the agricultural sector once again,it must be so, and done well because we must all eat. This was what motivated me to participate in this year's IHAV conference, which I believe would help me gather more knowledge and share ideas with fellow participants from other African countries, to help boost Nigeria's agricultural sector'. These are the words of a Nigerian participant Ibiyinka Amokeodo, a fourth-year Food Science and Technology student at the Bowen University, Nigeria.
Participants were made to realize that agribusiness was a viable venture for the youth because with the global technology advancement, they (the young people) could deploy more modern methods of agriculture to increase yield and improve sales. According to Miss Naseria, a Kenyan participant, currently, there are a lot of talks going on in Kenya about how the young people could contribute their quotas to develop the agricultural industry in the country. This, she said, motivated her to participate in the IHAV conference to enable her build her capacity, learn, share ideas on how to improve agricultural in her country and Africa at large. Jeanne Naseria is nurturing the dream of helping small-scale farmers in her country to be sustained in agricultural. This and many more were the views of the participants on the topic of agriculture and related businesses. This shows how poised the youths are to create change but they need guidance and platforms to share and shape these dreams and that is what IHAV is offering through its yearly project conferences; to help them discover new and improved ways of working and how to think beyond the borders of their country by enlarging their visions to cover Africa as whole. Africa must move as a continent not countries, and IHAV is helping these young ones put their vision in action.