June 27, 2017

Burundi’s next generation of farmers peek inside our agricultural incubators

Burundian entrepreneurs seized the opportunity to take a peek inside one of SPARK’s incubation centres.

In early May, SPARK opened the doors of one of its local incubation centres in Cibitoke, a city located in northwest Burundi, in order to reach out to more potential Burundian entrepreneurs and spread the news of activities we offer. It was a chance to give aspiring and existing entrepreneurs the support and courage they need to start up their business or improve their growth. Due to the fragility of Burundi, young entrepreneurs could use extra support to survive and grow through the difficult early stages of developing their agricultural businesses.

The incubation centres are created under SPARK’s Agri-Business Incubation Network programme (ABIN), which was initiated in Burundi in 2014. The incubators seek to assist entrepreneurs in establishing their own start-ups by helping them access resources that can otherwise be difficult to obtain in the early stages of business. The services offered by the incubators are tailored to meet the varying requirements of different businesses. For example, agricultural incubators provide access to land, farming equipment and infrastructure for farm start-ups.

The ABIN staff took the ‘open day’ as an opportunity to engage the 80 attendees at the Chibitoke incubation centre in informative talks about the activities on offer. When the event was in full swing, dynamic conversations and enterprising ideas were being exchanged in every corner of the room. With all the farming tools and equipment on display, it was a playground for the future farmers.

Michel Richter, SPARK’s Co-Director, paused by a vegetable sterilisation machine to listen to an explanation about its usage from a staff member. He said: “We have come a long way. The incubators have provided a safe environment for start-ups in fragile states so that they can grow into strong and promising businesses.”

Meanwhile, the Senior Advisor to the Governor of Cibitoke, Anicet Saidi and a number of representatives from NGOs, were busy watching a ‘tomato transformation process’ demonstrated by Nadia Nuntuze, SPARK’s Country Manager. Mr. Saidi expressed hope for the self-sustaining future of Burundi. He said: “Stronger businesses mean a stronger economy and a brighter future for Burundi. We are excited about the results.”

In another corner, cassava was being transformed to flour and on-looking entrepreneur minds appeared to whirr with new ideas. A few steps away, other attendees sampled fresh made jam. A representative of the SOVIBU co-operative exclaimed: “I am so excited to realise that I can actually use the tools I have at home to create my own jam!”

Burundi has an overwhelmingly large rural population of about 75%, who have limited access to services and employment opportunities. On top of that some 80% of Burundians in rural areas are dependent on agriculture for survival. To promote entrepreneurship, ABIN centres provide support, particularly to women and youth, to improve their knowledge and skills and help them stand on their own feet.




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