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Training on Value Chain Incubator in Africa

Ms Louise de Klerk,
CEO, Timbali, with the participants,
during the workshop.
Photo: S Vemu, ICRISAT

At a recently conducted international training program on value chain incubators, participants learned critical skills for successfully managing their enterprises.

The workshop mainly focused on six objectives to:

  • expose business managers on value chain incubator management principles
  • train participants on operational systems for business incubators
  • provide hands-on training to participants on scouting entrepreneurs
  • engage participants in client servicing
  • improve skills of participants on M&E systems
  • train participants on financial management, branding and marketing strategies.

Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), during his special address, interacted with the participants and emphasized the importance of agribusiness in Africa and highlighted the role of value chain based incubation.

The main aim of the training session was to expose the attendees to the Timbali Model in a practical hands-on way and to the theme of ‘Incubation Excellence’ as developed at Timbali over a 10-year period.

The Timbali Technology Incubator, in Johannesburg, South Africa, is well known for its franchisee-based incubation model which offers business enabling environment; access to infrastructure, technology, and shared services for its incubates. It is perfectly suited for implementation in the Agribusiness Innovation Incubation Consortia (AIICs) of the Universities, Business & Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN). The model has scope for being scaled up and adapted across Africa.

The training program was based on a small-group-workshop-approach, wherein the issues faced at their specific business incubation service environment, were identified by the participants. The delegates then worked out practical solutions based on their experience, approaches and lessons discussed at the incubator. The training also involved six exposure visits to crop production, packaging and business locations as a part of on-site training activity.

The key take-away points listed by the participants from the training program were to set up viable systems; align activities to the needs and the demands of the market; selection of right technology and inputs; enhanced monitoring and evaluation systems for incubators; accurate market analysis, branding, innovations leading to strong and unique value propositions. The participants appreciated the overall training module including the unique farmer-business game.

UniBRAIN is an initiative for advancing agribusiness incubation and improved agribusiness education in Africa. The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program of the Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) of ICRISAT has been entrusted with the handholding and mentoring activities of UniBRAIN’s 6 pilot AIICs, which work in critical African agricultural value chains.

The training program, attended by 30 participants, was conducted under the supervision of Ms Louise de Klerk, CEO, Timbali, Mr Karuppanchetty, COO, ABI-ICRISAT and Mr Alex Ariho, UniBRAIN Facility Coordinator. The training was organized at the Timbali Technology Incubator, Nelspruit, South Africa.

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