Ukama Ustawi – Working together to frame potential interventions for youth engagement in agripreneurship in Zimbabwe

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What are the enabling or disabling factors that affect young people, women and marginalized men who engage in agriculture as entrepreneurs? What interventions should be designed in response to these barriers? As part of work on gender equality and social inclusion, the CGIAR Regional Integrated Initiative on Diversification in East and Southern Africa—Ukama Ustawi (UU)—held a two-day dialogue on interventions for youth engagement in agripreneurship in Zimbabwe to answer and discuss some of these questions. The dialogue was led by Work Package 5 on Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) of the UU Initiative, in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Development Reality Institute. The dialogue brought together a variety of participants from Harare and other districts such as Mashonaland, Buhera, Murehwa, Shamva, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutoko as well as Hurungwe, to not only discuss the topics, but also to share experiences and insights.

CGIAR Country Convenor for Zimbabwe, Dr Isaiah Nyagumbo from CIMMYT gave welcoming remarks and shared the CGIAR 2030 research and innovation strategy for food, land, and water systems transformation. He highlighted Ukama Ustawi’s work that contributes to food security in the region, and the importance of GESI in achieving this. This was followed by a presentation by Dr Kristin Davis from IFPRI, who highlighted UU Work Package 5, and its aims to empower, engage women and youth in agribusiness, and identify pathways to transformative change.

This two-day workshop built upon outcomes from a previous UU dialogue that was held in 2022 in Zimbabwe, which looked at the bottlenecks and opportunities for inclusive agribusiness (specifically for women and young people), and the ways in which UU’s Work Package 5 could help achieve this.  Having validated the 2022 UU dialogue outcomes, the participants then worked to identified gaps (see Fig.1) and explored challenges, opportunities, and strategies related to youth and women engagement in the agribusiness sector in Zimbabwe (see Fig.2). Intervention strategies discussed were aimed at empowering women and marginalized youth, to foster a more inclusive and equitable agribusiness landscape in Zimbabwe. Underpinned by the GESI framework developed by UU WP5 in 2023, discussions were framed under three main thematic areas: agency and capability; resource access; and exclusionary institutional norms and practices.

Figure 1: Key insights on gaps identified from the 2022 workshop

Key challenges and opportunities identified:

Figure 2 – Key challenges and opportunities identified
Dr Daud Taranhike presenting the Integral Kumusha model. Credit: Tapiwa Mukwashi/Development Reality Institute
Dr Daud Taranhike presenting the Integral Kumusha model. Credit: Tapiwa Mukwashi/Development Reality Institute

Some local experts in their field were invited to share their experience within the local Zimbabwean context. For example, Dr Daud Taranhike presented the Integral Kumusha model, which is a community-based enterprise focusing on the eradication of poverty and hunger, and the regeneration of rural livelihoods. It is centred around what Dr Taranhike has termed “Nhakanomics”, which is an economic approach anchored in an African indigenous way of wealth creation and system of creating a legacy (nhaka) for future generations.

Using the collective expertise and local contextual knowledge in the room, participants developed three potential interventions for Zimbabwean youth in agripreneurship: i) an intervention program to assist rehabilitated youth with their mental wellbeing and become economically active in agriculture, ii) establishing a revolving fund to provide financial support to households engaging in agripreneurship, and iii) fish farming scheme for marginalized youth, men, and women to generate their own livelihoods. Each intervention provided a detailed workplan, budget allocation, and key activities.

In her closing statement, Dr Karen Nortje from IWMI, and the UU lead for Work Package 5 noted how important contextual knowledge is for the planning and execution of such interventions. Outlining the next steps in the process, Dr Nortje commented that the outcome of this process would be the UU Initiative using the learning from this workshop to craft and implement a program for youth in agribusiness in Zimbabwe.

Participants at the workshop. Credit: Tapiwa Mukwashi/DRI


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

Featured image: A woman farmer trying out a tractor during the Ukama Ustawi ShareFair in Zimbabwe, March 2024. Credit: IWMI Southern Africa. 

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. 

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