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Catalyzing use of renewable energy in agriculture by East African youth to promote entrepreneurship

This idea seeks to decouple agricultural production needed to be intensified to feed a larger amount of people from the use of fossil fuels.

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In developing countries, many farmers and agribusinesses lack access to reliable and clean energy services. Consequently, they are less able to adopt modern agricultural techniques, increase food production, engage in opportunities for value-added processing, and benefit from broad-based, environmentally-sound economic growth. Increasing access to clean energy along the agricultural value chain will require development of new clean energy technologies and viable business models and investment for scaling up their deployment. However, within each stage of agriculture supply chains – input production or supply (i.e. seed, fertilizer, feed, etc.), irrigation, production (i.e. planting crops, raising livestock), storage, transport, processing (i.e. sorting, drying, grinding, packaging), wholesaling, marketing, retailing, and waste management – there are opportunities for increased integration of clean energy services to support this endeavor. The main goal of the idea is to conduct national baseline studies at both a capacity and technology transfer assessment level in the agriculture and energy nexus in the target countries. The results of the baseline study will provide the conceptual basis for the implementation of key idea activities, particularly the development of capacity building programmes, the establishment of research and technology transfer centres (RTTCs), and the implementation of demonstration trials.


Young people and women through training and exposure activities. The specific objectives of the baseline studies will be: 1. To assess relevant and currently available know-how and map best practices in the nexus 2. To identify the national capacity and training needs in the nexus 3. To analyze the policy and institutional framework in the nexus 4. To analyze the research and innovation needs 5. To assess the technology transfer and market-oriented needs


Shernas Limited is a research-focused organization based in Kenya that produces research products for non-commercial purposes. While profit making in legal status, the organization is not seeking to make a profit as a result of the implementation of the proposed idea.


  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda


  • Yes, for more than one year.


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year


Rising food insecurity and the adverse consequences of climate change are inextricably linked. Fossil fuels still drive agricultural production and prices of agricultural products exhibit a close relationship with energy prices, leading to increasing price volatility on the global food market. For people living in developing countries, this trend will likely contribute to greater food insecurity in part due to the projected population growth in the coming years. At the same time, an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and thus significant contribution to global warming and climate change worldwide will be led by an intensification of agricultural production.

Goals of the Idea

We seek to empower youth in the focus countries as clean energy entrepreneurs and expand clean energy access for agricultural use in poor and rural communities. Working at the grassroots levels, we’ll promote entrepreneurship of small-scale clean technologies such as solar products to drive green growth and directly integrate youth women into the energy access and agricultural value chains. Our goal is to improve agricultural productivity and value by increasing access to clean energy solutions to those along the agricultural value chain that suffer from no, or poor quality, grid power in developing countries. The idea aims to foster innovative clean energy technologies and business models and catalyze private sector investment to enhance access to the clean energy inputs required for the agricultural value chain while simultaneously mitigating CO2 emissions from agricultural intensification. Furthermore, the energy/agriculture nexus provides an excellent opportunity for economic empowerment of women and adoption of gender sensitive approaches.

Main Activities

To achieve the goals and expected results, the idea could include the following:

  1. Empowering and supporting women and youth clean energy and agriculture entrepreneurs
    • Recruit, train, and mentor youth and women entrepreneurs and provide ongoing marketing support to attract and engage customers/consumers
    • Utilize the USAID's and partners' 'Powering Agriculture An Energy Grand Challenge for Development' to offer business, empowerment, and leadership training to youth and women entrepreneurs
    • Improve/enhance linkages between savings and credit co-operatives (SACCO) or other forms of organized youth and women’s groups and distributors looking to train and hire entrepreneurs to sell their technologies
    • Increase involvement of and support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the small-scale clean energy technology supply chain
    • Provide mentoring and other support services to women clean energy entrepreneurs, including staff at women-owned and women–operated SMEs
  1. Build the evidence base to advance youth and women clean energy and agriculture entrepreneurship
    • Conduct countrywide surveys to determine baseline famring methods and assess market opportunities for the adoption of clean energy technologies
    • Conduct mapping of the factors that result in a trainee becoming an active versus inactive entrepreneur and develop recommendations for recruitment criteria and workforce retention incentives based on findings
    • Enhance/increase/build a strong evidence base on the challenges and opportunities associated with youth's and women’s clean energy and agriculture entrepreneurship, including by defining transformational data points, identifying gaps in data and determining the desired evidence points with the ultimate goal of creating a stronger, more compelling/persuasive narrative that supports the case for increased investment in youth's and women’s clean energy and agriculture entrepreneurship
    • Pilot marketing and behavior change communication strategies aimed at increasing the adoption and uptake of clean energy technologies in the agriculture sector
  1. Addressing Financial Barriers
    • Pilot strategies to overcome financing barriers related to inventory and distribution at the farming enterprise level, product inventory and start-up funds at the entrepreneur level, and up-front purchasing power at the farming level
    • Develop innovative financing mechanisms to improve entrepreneur access to financing to purchase bundles of small-scale clean energy technologies for agricultural use
  2. Growing the resultant partnerships
    • Collaborate with other partner organizations to share resources and experiences and communicate successes and lessons learned
    • Work closely with the development partners in target countries to ensure accomplishments and best practices are disseminated to other partners and to broader audiences
    • Increase the effectiveness of partner organizations, including by identifying categories of best practices based on partner experiences with a view to replicating and scaling most effective approaches

Performance Indicators

They include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Number of people trained in clean energy use in agriculture supported by OpenIDEO assistance
  • Number of institutions with improved capacity to address clean energy issues in agriculture as supported by OpenIDEO assistance
  • Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, estimated in metric tons of CO2 equivalent, reduced, sequestered, or avoided through clean energy activities supported by OpenIDEO assistance
  • Projected greenhouse gas emissions reduced or avoided through 2030 from adopted laws, policies, regulations, or technologies related to clean energy in agriculture as supported by OpenIDEO assistance
  • Clean energy generation capacity in agriculture supported by OpenIDEO assistance that has achieved financial closure
  • Number of laws, policies, regulations, or standards addressing clean energy formally proposed, adopted, or implemented as supported by OpenIDEO assistance
  • Amount of investment mobilized (in USD) for clean energy in agriculture as supported by OpenIDEO assistance


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