Innovations Session N°12

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Entrepreneurial Skills of Successful African MSMEs

The recording of the session is available in English, French, and Portugese on YouTube


The way forward: Key skills needed to promote sustainable and safe food

African entrepreneurs and MSMEs play a crucial role in the agrifood sector in Africa, providing food security and creating jobs and economic opportunities. However, these businesses face various challenges including limited access to financing, insufficient infrastructure, and lack of market information and connections. To support these entrepreneurs and MSMEs, the African governments and development partners need to implement policies and programs that enhance access to finance, improve infrastructure and market linkages, and provide technical assistance and training to MSMEs, farmers organisations and entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs should also be encouraged to promote sustainable production and trade and contribute to the green economy. Diversification within the agricultural sector through increased processing is necessary for local small- and medium-sized companies to develop high value-added, quality and specialty niche products. Post-harvest losses and food waste along the chain can be minimised with training in improved handling and storage hygiene, and recycling.

Ensuring food quality and safety is needed in supplying any market. Companies need to differentiate products through quality and safety. Agricultural producers are becoming more ambitious in seeking premiums for their goods and increasingly adopting social and environmental certifications.

Even if standards are stringent, their adoption and implementation can generate greater income for producers and satisfaction among consumers and entrepreneurs must know them. This applies to niche markets, such as sustainability in production, organic or fair-trade food products.

Promoting upscale and innovations requires technical and financial skills.

Dedicated efforts should be made to target youth and women entrepreneurs as to support employment creation in the agricultural and agrifood sector.

Many organisations, such as the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) and the COLEAD, support farmers organisations, cooperatives and entrepreneurs in capacity development, skills enhancement and business relations in areas related to market research, marketing and packaging, meeting quality standards and labelling requirement, dealing with new administrative procedures and regulatory requirements and having access to distribution to diversifying customers such as trade fairs and B2Bs.

Key points for discussion on MSMEs management and technical skills to grow:

  • What are the key skills that successful entrepreneurs develop?
  • What type of investments are needed to support entrepreneurs to grow through skills development?
  • What incentives can be provided to MSMEs and smallholders to better acquire management and technical skills?

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