Here are five tips drawn from a recent CORAF youth event in designing a successful start-up using information, communication, and technologies for agriculture (ICT4Ag):
1. To be successful, an agribusiness project must follow 4 coherent steps: (i) challenge identification (ii) idea selection (iii) business model elaboration (a strategy to implement the solution and generate income) and (iv) business plan elaboration (profitability scale). To be gainful and sustainable, the products generated and services provided must align with market needs, in the given value chain.
2. ICTs can now be used at the various levels of financial management. Trello and Google Drive are accessible tools than can enable a young farmer design a Strategic Plan and an Operational Plan. It’s equally supportive in time management, and reduces time and space.
3. Social media is a set of tools and services that allow people to express themselves online, ‘meeting’ and/or sharing. These tools can boost development in the agro-food sectors by facilitating networking, discussions and publications. The richness and diversity of social media offer a proven potential market since 3.4 billion people are connected on the internet, and 2.2 billion use social networks globally.
4. Mobile app is driving smart farming. It is a game changer for young on-the-go growers and entrepreneurs, enabling them to perform critical tasks wherever and whenever they need it. From scouting fields and managing agronomic data, to flying drones and creating farm maps, there is virtually no job that a farming app can’t do.
5. No entrepreneurial project in agriculture will be successful today without a gender dimension. But statistics on women and ICTs in sub-Saharan Africa remain very low. This trend can be changed using innovative tools. Young farmers should be aware that gender is a development tool.