Since COVID-19 struck, life has changed for entrepreneurs and businesses around the world. Due to lockdowns and movement restrictions, smallholder farmers and rural businesses have been unable to access markets and sell produce or other products. As they often have little or no access to social security, rural youth disproportionately suffer from the pandemic’s restrictions on businesses. In general, youth also already face higher unemployment and underemployment rates compared to adults.
However, well-versed in technology, young agripreneurs are quickly adapting their business models and using digital tools to their advantage. Accepting online orders with mobile payments, offering home delivery, marketing products on social media, using ICTs to work from home and taking online classes to acquire new skills are just some of the ways that youth are using this opportunity for growth and innovation.
FAO launched a youth engagement initiative, Coping with COVID-19: voices of young agripreneurs, at the end of March 2020 to understand the impact of the outbreak on the businesses of young rural people and to know how to best support them during and after the pandemic. Through networks and groups of young farmers and agripreneurs across Africa and Central America, the initiative identified youth-led solutions to cope with the crisis. This has informed FAO’s policy advice to governments and resource mobilisation efforts to advocate for youth-inclusive responses.
Here are just three young agripreneurs proving that the pandemic won’t get them down: