Pathways for youth in agribusiness: Crafting interventions through landscaping study for youth agripreneurship in Malawi

  • From
    CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa
  • Published on

Share this to :

What are the enabling or disabling factors that affect young people who engage in agriculture as entrepreneurs? To find out the answers, the CGIAR Regional Integrated Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern AfricaUkama Ustawi (UU)—held a dialogue on interventions for youth engagement in agripreneurship in Lilongwe, Malawi, this February. Within the UU Initiative work package 5 on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) partnered with Kirk Development Research, Training and Consultancy (KIDERTCO) to understand youth engagement in agripreneurship in Malawi, their constraints and opportunities, and map out current initiatives and actors that are engaging young agripreneurs.

Figure: Map showing Ukama Ustawi’s work districts in Malawi.

A report on a landscape analysis of youth in agripreneurship in Malawi was produced by KIDERTCO, highlighting the roles, actors, and constraints for youth participation in agriculture and agribusiness, as well as recommendations for interventions to support young people in Malawi. The analysis focused on four districts: Nkhota Kota, Nkhata Bay, Balaka, and Chikawawa.

The report states that agriculture is a driving force in the economy of Malawi and is essential in generating employment, export earnings, economic growth, and poverty reduction. Half of the population in Malawi is between the ages of 10 and 35, and only 30 percent of this population is involved in youth agripreneurship, with young men being the most active. The report details how factors that hinder young people’s participation in agriculture and agripreneurship include limited access to finance, young people’s indifference towards agriculture and related activities, poor access to land, markets, equipment, and extension services (as well as poor coordination of youth programs).

Photo: Participants who attended the youth validation workshop in December 2023.

The report suggests that public and private organizations must work together to provide market linkages and invest in capacity building and training. Financial institutions and organizations (such as the National Economic Empowerment Fund Limited and the Financial Inclusion and Entrepreneurship Scaling) need to facilitate access to credit, grants, and loans, as well as financial management tools, to help youth start and sustain their businesses in agriculture. Youth can also participate in horticulture value chains as they have opportunities for income generation, job creation, and food security.

The report was presented at a stakeholder validation workshop in December 2023. Stakeholders indicated that: there is a need for mass adoption of appropriate technologies for youth agripreneurship to thrive in agribusiness; young people must be organized in solidarity groups; sequenced interventions allow for smooth youth participation in agriculture; and lastly, there is a need for mindset change on youth involvement in agriculture and agribusiness.

Photo: Workshop participants in discussion on key interventions for youth in agribusiness.

Building on some of the key outcomes from the 2023 validation workshop, UU organized the 2024 dialogue with stakeholders aimed at discussing specific interventions to engage young people sustainably in agricultural entrepreneurship.

The workshop highlighted key elements of the validation report and allowed further discussion on what can be done or should be avoided by implementing organizations. Partner organizations present at the workshop included international bodies such as GIZ, Opportunity International-Malawi, the International Potato Centre-Malawi, and Land O’Lakes. Local agencies included SMEDI, the National Youth Council of Malawi, LUANAR, African Honey and Food Products, MUSCCO, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, the Small and Medium Poultry Association, and the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Malawi.

Presentation from Rollins Chitika of Equip Consulting

In his opening remarks, Rollins Chitika from Equip Consultancy noted that Malawi aspires to become an upper-middle-income country by 2063.

During the dialogue, partner members from SMEDI and the Reserve Bank of Malawi noted that capacitating youth should be at the forefront of getting young people in Malawi involved in agribusiness. They need to learn about the financing models for agricultural projects, learn about the functioning of the financial and agricultural markets (locally and internationally), familiarize themselves with who owns factories and industries, and learn how to manage loans and capital provided by banks and incubation centers. Mindset change was also mentioned by the GIZ partner members as a factor that needs to be addressed in order for young people to be involved in agribusiness. In addition, young women and rural-based youth need to be targeted so that they are provided with agripreneurship education and training and practically available technological tools.

To forge a way forward with finding targeted interventions, the discussions were divided into three thematic areas: resources, risks and mitigation, and capacity building.

Key takeaways from the Resources theme

  • Break down agribusiness value chains and provide context specific and appropriate resource interventions.
  • Provide financial assistance to groups and cooperatives, not individuals.
  • Equip lending parties with knowledge of the agribusiness sector as well as the sector’s business models.

Key takeaways from the Risks and Mitigation theme

  • Risks associated with youth agribusiness include loan defaulters, socio-political and economic instabilities, young migration and climate change, competition and misuse of project resources. Measures to mitigate the risks include agribusiness training and mentorship, contractual agreements, properly designing agricultural projects, promoting indigenous crops, developing climate smart agricultural tools, and forming collective markets for the benefit of young agripreneurs.

Key takeaways from the Capacity Building theme

  • Start with a needs assessment.
  • Provide peer-to-peer mentoring for those starting out, provided by those doing well in the industry.
  • Provide youth with skills through agricultural education and technical vocational education and training (TVET).
  • Provide business support services such as incubation, financing, and tax-compliance certification.
  • Provide business incubation services that will see agripreneurs through the pre-incubation, incubation, and post-incubation stages.

This workshop succeeded in bringing together actors in the agribusiness space to collectively discuss interventions to help young people in Malawi enter and actively participate in agribusiness value chains. The three thematic areas  targeted  strategies that included providing context-specific and appropriate interventions, lender education about the sector, mitigating risks such as socio-political and economic instabilities and young migration through training and mentorship and the formation of collective markets, and lastly focusing on capacity building through peer-to-peer mentoring, incubation services, as well as education and TVET.

Featured image: Farm manager showing the drip irrigation system in the Tithokoze Farm, in Mpingu, Malawi. Photo credit: Melissa Cooperman/IFPRI


  • Seipati Mokhema, Research Officer, Gender Social Inclusion, and Youth – IWMI
  • Ojongetakah Baa, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Gender and Social Inclusion (Agribusiness) – IWMI
  • Kristin Davis, Senior Research Fellow, Natural Resources and Resilience – IFPRI

Contributor: Karen Nortje, Research Group Leader – Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) – IWMI

This workshop was covered by Malawi24: Lack of readily available markets affecting youths looking to venture into agribusiness

This blog has been prepared as an output of the CGIAR Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa and has not been independently peer-reviewed. Responsibility for editing, proofreading, layout, opinions expressed, and any possible errors lies with the authors and not the institutions involved.

Share this to :