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Innovating with the Next Generation of Ugandan Coffee Farmers

Youth in Coffee creates employment opportunities for young people in the coffee value chain as producers, farmers, consumers and advocates.

Photo of Sara Mason
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Youth in Coffee will work with Great Lakes Coffee Company to address Africa's two interlinked challenges of youth unemployment and food insecurity. With the youngest unemployed population on the globe, Africa’s resources are being put under pressure to sustain a growing but unproductive youth bulge. This is partly due to the percentage of African farmers over 60, and the fear they will soon not be able to grow enough food to feed the continent. Agribusiness remains a sector with untapped potential for youth empowerment. Uganda and East Africa climatic conditions are well suited for the production of coffee in large volumes. If young farmers have access to the right training and services, they can grow and sell coffee to significantly boost their incomes and through higher coffee earnings, youth can diversify their income sources, expand coffee production, and provide improved housing, healthcare and education for their families. Through promoting and integrating innovation in farming practices, youth can help to build the future of agribusiness and the African coffee industry. The Youth in Coffee project will catalyze the engagement of youth as critical players in the coffee chain. The project will provide support for youth to pursue coffee farming as a business through providing capacity building in agribusiness, exposure to innovation within the sector, access to finance, collective marketing and a connection to a network of youth engaged in agribusiness.

WHO BENEFITS?

Our beneficiaries are male and female Ugandans under 35 years old living in Eastern Ugandan communities where Great Lakes Coffee operates. They will benefit through training and employment in coffee cultivation and processing, support for the development of small businesses, and participation in coffee sector innovation that will modernize the coffee industry in the area.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Our team is a partnership between Youth Feed Africa, a social enterprise based in Uganda, and Great Lakes Coffee Company, a green coffee processor and exporter based in Kampala, Uganda. We have a history of working together on community based development initiatives in Eastern Uganda.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Uganda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

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

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

Originally we had planned to include Youth Cooperatives in the program plan. However, after consulting communities, we realized there was no need to launch new producer organizations, but rather to integrate youth into the activities of the current producer groups and value chain.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Our idea is unique because of its practical implementation structure. Using pre-existing groups structures and leveraging existing community dynamics, we seek to provide opportunities for youth to engage in Ugandan coffee. Our partnership offers a unique opportunity and advantage because we are working with communities and also with coffee exporters/companies, so we ensure there is market driven support for the program.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Agriculture, and specifically coffee farming, are perceived by most young people as only a farm based activity and few young people recognize the off farm opportunities that the coffee industry provides as a potential career/business opportunity. There are several reasons why youth do not participate in the coffee value chain: -Educational Influences: The school curricula have generally tended to discourage youth from careers in agriculture, and as a result, agriculture is considered to be an occupation of last resort. -Access to land: Coffee farming requires land and access to productive land is an impediment for both the youth and women in agriculture.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

We need to further explore the types of support youth will need to engage in businesses. Possible support options include financial literacy, business management training, access to finance, etc.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

We are already engaging in purchasing coffee from the producer groups, but during this project, we will begin to more intentionally engage with youth.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Coffeelac and Youth in Coffee will implement the partnership. Youth in Coffee will manage coffee engagement activities, while Coffeelac will ensure a market for the coffee grown. Capacity building will be delivered through Great Lakes' regular Agronomy and Financial Literacy program, specialized programs for youth developed by Youth Feed Africa, and with support from NGOs who are local partners. We anticipate the cost of the program will be offset by additional sales and future employers.

The Problem

Africa faces two interlinked challenges of youth unemployment and food insecurity. With the youngest unemployed population on the globe, Africa’s resources are being put pressure to sustain a growing but unproductive youth bulge. This is partly due to the percentage of African farmers over 60, and the fear they will soon not be able to grow enough food to feed the continent.

Our Solution- The Youth in Coffee Project 

Agribusiness remains with untapped potential for youth employment as Uganda and East Africa climatic conditions are well suited for the production of coffee in large volumes. The Youth in Coffee project will catalyze the engagement of youth as critical players in the coffee chain. 

If young farmers have access to the right training and services, they can grow and sell coffee to significantly boost their incomes.  Then, through higher coffee earnings, youth can diversify their income sources, expand coffee production, and provide improved housing, healthcare and education for their families. Through promoting innovation in coffee cultivation and processing, the project will improve coffee yields and quality, modernize the Ugandan coffee sector, and unlock future employment opportunities for youth.

Project Description

The project shall be implemented over a course of two years (2016 – 2018) targeting young people in Eastern Uganda.

The intervention will target active young coffee farmers and those desiring to start coffee businesses through:

Agribusiness Training:  Good Agricultural Practices and Financial Literacy training will provide youth with the skills to help their parents improve household coffee yield and planning for coffee farming as a business. 

Innovation:  The initiative will promote innovation and innovative agricultural practices amongst youth who are often more willing to experiment with new promising agricultural methods.

Capacity Building for Enterprise Development:  The initiative will also build skills to enable youth to start coffee businesses, particularly around agricultural extension and post harvest processing. This will include training in management skills, access to finance, collective marketing and a connection to a network of youth engaged in agribusiness. 

Mindset Change: The initiative aims to rebrand the agribusiness sector as a pathway to meaningful youth employment and poverty reduction among youth. This will be achieved through campaigns, social media, and seminars that showcase opportunities in the coffee value chain.

Expected Impact

In addition to  creating jobs for young Ugandans, the project will result in:

  • Increased engagement of young people in coffee as a business
  • Innovation in the Ugandan coffee sector 
  • Young peoples’ ability to create meaningful employment in the coffee value chain
  • Strengthened young people’s interest in coffee as a pathway to employment and improved livelihoods.


Measuring Success

To measure the success of the initiative, both quantitative and qualitative data around individual perspectives on coffee as a business as well as most significant change stories will be collected and input into a cloud based platform for sharing with other young people. We will also continue to collect learnings about the impact on coffee, specifically monitoring increases in quality and quantity of coffee produced as well as increasing interest in coffee as business by young people.


SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

Five years from now, we would like to see the youth we work with running this program independently. To achieve this impact, we need to answer the question: "What kind of changes do we need to see in households, communities, industry and society as a whole, to support the next generation of Coffee Farmers?"

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • More than a year

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

We are interested in joining Amplify's portfolio of innovators because we believe the Amplify process will enable us to design a creative, effective, disruptive solution around our already solid project plan. We would like to see Amplify's expertise support our team to take our project to the next level, especially through "cross-pollination" of ideas that have been successful in other projects and sectors.

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Photo of Chelsea Takamine
Team

Hi Sara and Team! Amplify and our experts have some comments and questions for you - we encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea.

-It's a bold idea to engage youth on existing well-developed value-chain for a high-value commodity, like coffee.
-The description mentions the insight that a new producer organization for youth was found unnecessary to set up, which makes sense. It would be useful to have any additional information on why youth don't already participate in the coffee chain and some more specifics around the capacity building to youth that would be provided to close that gap. Any evidence on successes that have been seen because of similar work would be useful to share.
-Could you provide us with more of a sense of the business model around the capacity building approach since presumably that would incur additional cost?

In case you missed it, OpenIDEO and Amplify hosted a Storytelling Office Hour - https://youtu.be/g0gZRR6T9tA. Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and help make it come to life! Don't forget - December 18th is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Looking forward to reading more!

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