Incubators play a significant role in the development of business start-ups by providing opportunity for nurturing enterprise development whilst supporting networking services, capital support, and training programs for technical and soft skills for novice entrepreneurs. In a continent facing mounting pressure from young people in search of employment opportunities, business incubators form a critical pathway for catalysing business growth for economic development. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) with funding support from the Mastercard Foundation launched the RUFORUM Entrepreneurship Challenge Program (RECAP), an agribusiness incubator program within agricultural universities in Africa. The RECAP has four focus objectives: (i) provide the RUFORUM network with opportunity to innovatively develop, mainstream and institutionalise entrepreneurship and agribusiness in the university structures; (ii) provide universities opportunity to create an enabling environment through which students, university academics and private sector work together to support students to design, develop and validate their business ideas, models and products and translate them into meaningful and viable enterprises; (iii) support universities to develop an innovation ecosystem; social, technological and business innovation that supports student’s mentorship in entrepreneurship and enterprise development as well as enhance technical support, skills development, networking and engagement with industry; and (iv) support university transformation process as innovation and incubation hubs for creating a cadre of entrepreneurial graduates with high success transition levels in the employment and job-creation. Seventeen agribusiness incubators have been operationalised. Six incubators from the first cohort have supported the creation of 81 enterprises by 273 students working together and these enterprises have created 209 direct jobs in one and half years of operation. One of the constraints currently facing these young enterprises is funding for acceleration but their potential is immense. In this regard, universities can actively play a leading role in not only being centers of innovation but locus for ideation, translation, business growth and employment creation given an enabling environment.
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RUFORUM Working document series
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