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Impactathon School of Agriculture (ISA)


Even with its enormous riches in natural resources, Africa is the poorest continent. We are struck by drought and for that we receive alms from those that consume the little that we produce. If we only could like directly with the consumers of what we produce, there would be a better way to optimize the outcomes of our earnings. The model that the agricultural value chain uses is lopsided. There is reason to make the actors in the value chain to be more 'feeling' of the pain that the producers go through.

Without an organizational framework that can make the value chain paradigm be transparent to all, the same stories of poverty and hopelessness will continue being the only product that Africa will have for the world. It is for this reason that African leaders are agreed, that there is need to invest in Agriculture and to grow Africa's economies by over 7%pa if we have to get ourselves out of the confusion that poverty presents to us. Absorbing 10% of the GDP in agriculture was considered the solution 10 years ago. It is still the vision today.

Creating the right institutions will help realize the African agenda by financing our own development. This will enable us decide what direction and pace we desire our growth to take. As noted by the AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina (March, 2016, 'African countries must look within the private sector to fund their own infrastructure rather than borrowing from international markets to plug financing gaps'. To many, any mention of the private sector alienates the smallholder producers and hence the farmers. This is the reason the consortium that has come together to realize the Impactathon School of Agriculture (ISA) has come together. We seek to mobilize investment capital through organizational structures that make investment for Africa to be as inclusive as can possibly be. By undertaking to pay our taxes through a framework that the government can relate with we can have a macroeconomic stabilization, and fiscal consolidation that is driven by Africa. No doubt the future of Africa lies not outside the continent but within Africa..

The ISA will align its programmes along the African Development Bank's focus of mobilizing investment along its 5 thematic pillars dubbed the "High 5" priority areas whose implementation period lasts to 2022. These include the following:

1. Lighting up and power Africa

2. Feeding Africa

3. Industrializing Africa

4. Integrating Africa

5. Improving the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Guided by the foregoing, we shall create the framework that will support the AfDB thinking to help transform Africa through a value chain aligned "institutional framework.

Why the Impactathon School of Agriculture (ISA)?


Figure 1: The ISA Operational Model

Africa's population is expected to double by 2050, which implies the need for better productivity from our farms, and well managed inputs and production management. With the appreciation that Africa's agriculture is driven by smallholders while governments participate with private sector as drivers of large scale agriculture, it is noteworthy that even with clearly defined actors, the sector lacks in a structured process of engaging with the management of the sector. This explains the challenge in investment, strategy; systems and staffing that are needed to guide how best to promote farming and production, processing, health and nutrition which result to trade with regional, international and local markets.

Governments, development partners, private sector, financial organizations, and research and knowledge organizations have for long lacked a framework (or structure), through which to infuse a model for guiding strategy implementation, creation of systems, and engaging of knowledgeable staff in value chain driven agricultural development, to what Africa needs. For over 8 years, VACID Africa has been involved in action research to isolate the reasons that constrain a continent with so much potential to feed itself, and the world, without having to look for support from other countries for this. The outcome of the action research seems clear: that value chain driven organizational development which can help engage actors in the agricultural value chain so that youths, women, and the resource endowed value chain resource owners can play a role in agriculture is necessary. No doubt a model that delivers clear messages of what the market needs in a way that producers understands is necessary.

Realizing the foregoing calls for a better managed agricultural sector, with the model developed as in Figure 1; helping meet the interests of all actors without any of them feeling 'cleverer' than the others. A social enterprise model with actors working to "make money while doing good" to all their stakeholders has become necessary. This is why VACID Africa formulated the Impactathon School of Agriculture (ISA) as a joint initiative of sectoral actors. The initial founders of this initiative included Ycenter, Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) and the Society of Crop Agribusiness Advisors. While working with producers in their organizations as smallholder farmers, medium or large scale farmers VACID Africa promotes the use of appropriate technologies that it has supported in developing a win-win perspective to all stakeholders. The partners to this effort are described next:

The Ycenter is a Global Higher Education and Social Innovation enterprise based out of Philadelphia, USA. They work with university and college students globally to create community centered projects. They mobilize a generation of youth to work with communities leveraging technology and beyond. Ycenter has worked with 2 American University students to create an SMS based mobile application for connecting people in remote communities with on-demand community health workers.

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), a leading international social enterprise organization headquartered in Canada works in 14 countries around the globe. In Kenya DOT's vision is to become a model youth initiative for the region, and to drive community and economic development at a grassroots level -- powered by the energy and enthusiasm of youth. It promotes the application of ICTs with a view to harnessing the power of youth who become leaders of change as they deliver information and communications technology (ICT) driven initiatives in their own communities. DOT's unique youth-led programs promote the use of technology for entrepreneurial, community, educational, and personal development.

The Society of Crop Agribusiness Advisors (SoCAA) is a professional network of agronomists and agribusiness advisors who seek to use their skills through in-person, or digital communication, to provide knowledge and influence policy to realize a knowledge driven agricultural transformation in Africa.

Value Addition and Cottage Industry Development in Africa (VACID Africa) is an African value chain development and agribusiness advisory initiative that promotes the collaboration of value chain actors to enable them harness the power of organized productive resource sharing for investment in technologies, business, knowledge dissemination at technical and policy levels.

Theforegoing is the reason the Impactathon School of Agriculture (ISA) was formulated. ISA is ready to partner with development organizations that need a social enterprise, operating in the agriculture space to harness value chain and agribusiness potential to realize food security and wealth creation along any and all agricultural value chains. The ISA is collaboratively implemented at all levels of governance in the country where it is domiciled. ICTs, Social Entrepreneurship, and Agripreneurship are the critical drivers of the ISA Programme and link with policy institutions which is the reason customized country initiatives are developed.

Our Programme Offering at the ISA

African governments have covered much ground since the declaration in Maputo (2003) that sought to commit African governments to allocate 10% of their GDP to agricultural budgets. Each of the member states committed through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact, to develop a country based strategy that to guide investments in Agriculture. In the latest Malabo Declaration (2014), Africa again reaffirmed its commitment to Making Africa Great by infusing a data and hence systems perspective to the CAADP Compact. All commitments by the Heads of State are left to country agricultural ministers to implement. In many cases, the ability of agricultural ministers to commit a country's budget process is ion more ways challenged. The commitments in many cases end up as good declaration documents, but they would have better opportunity for implementation if an organizational structure with a clear strategy and systems to realize the commitments is backed by the right human capital or staffing or the decimated extension mechanism. VACID Africa works across Africa and now seeks to promote a South-South Capacity Building Programme to support value chain driven agribusiness development in Africa. The programme is the core of the Impactathon School of Agriculture and comprises the headings listed below whose context is explained next:

1. Social Enterprise Development

2. Understanding Value Chain Driven Agripreneurshipi

3. Value Chain Process Automation

4. The Impactathon

5. Community Farm Based Engagement

Social Enterprise Development

Agricultural extension ensures productivity in agriculture. The need for knowledge resources to drive extension for a sector whose key actors have an average age of over 50 years is challenged. With food security and employment being a challenge, there is need to train youths and women to appreciate the need for an extension service driven business. Understanding the business of 'making money while doing good' is the critical driver of the VACID Africa focus on social enterprise development. The Ycenter of the USA is engaged in social enterprise development in education and health, and will partner with VACID Africa and DOT who have committed to creating youth driven agribusinesses using this approach. This 2 Week programme which is followed by a field engagement effort will be facilitated by Ycenter's experienced faculty for sharing with youth and women, including the traditional participants the men, in re-energizing the new thinking behind what creates VACID Africa's business driven extension support.

Understanding Value Chain Driven Agripreneurship

Every region has the potential to isolate one, or more, commodities through which to earn the biggest economic return. When a business model is mapped onto the chain of activities that make such a commodity a source of livelihoods and a business model mapped onto such, then an organizational value chain is created. This learning activity will explore the value chain paradigm, its foundation, and its promise as a wealth creation and retention for all actors along the value chain. The role of the social enterprise as the driver of agricultural activities combine to create an enterprise owned initiative driven by all actors in the value chain effort which provides the foundation of this agripreneurship programme.

Value Chain Process Automation

Having understood the social enterprise and its role in creating a value chain driven wealth creation vehicle, or agribusiness, a structure is thereby established. We shall then seek to map business processes to all the actions, starting from input supplies to production, to harvesting and post-harvest value chain optimization through integrating ICTs, to the agribusiness and consumption activities. The work of technology developers in the business and agricultural sectors will be used. The ICT4Ag teams will be sourced from leaders in technology development solutions in Africa and supported through the payments that will be received from participants to create a transformative solution for the agriculture space.

The Impactathon

While VACID Africa had a desire to develop an ICT4Ag solution for Agriculture, the emergence of the works undertaken by the Ycenter in Health and Education inspired the creation of a competitive model around sustainable applications development that looks at the value chain rather than a snapshot of the chain as is done in Hackathons. We shall engage the participants in this programme to develop solutions for the activities they have engaged with during VACID Africa's agripreneurship training so that solutions that are based on where an ISA Learning Team have come from becomes the drivers of the 'impact imbued hackathon', baptized Impactathon for this programme.

Community Farm Based Engagement

The ISA Learning Team of five (5) derived from each region creates is designed to inspire change in agricultural productivity at smallholder, medium and large scale agricultural production, with serious engagement of policy and investment partners in their region. Participants will be engaged in learning and supporting activities a practical class setup in a demonstration farm. National or County/Local Governments and their supportive development partners will participate in identifying the commodity chains through which the value chain knowledge will be shared. Community organization and the basis for such organization into partnerships, common interest groups, cooperatives, or companies will be discussed in this knowledge (or learning) domain.

ISA Programme Delivery

ISA is a social enterprise

The ISA is a social programme that promotes 'doing good' while enabling the partners to recoup their investment while also earning a return on their investment. The model of working out this effort is slowly emerging as this is the first model to run through the private sector to support economic development in a country through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). The consortium engaged in this programme shall promote the structuring that is necessary to make the partners engaged in the value chain activities evolve strategies that promote agriculture. We are conscious of the need to create the workforce or the staffing that is needed to drive agriculture so that they too are actors in developing the systems that will guide the economic development of the countries where this effort shall be deployed.

If your work is to promote rural communities promote nature, generate wealth while acquiring social power in their operational domain, then this programme needs to be one which you will want to support.


Learning Modules



  1. Social Enterprise Development

Design Thinking and Innovation

2 Weeks

Ycenter, DOT, VACID Africa, Elerai

Formulating Problem Statement

Field Experience

Creativity and Social Innovation

Entrepreneurship and Business Models


  1. Understanding Value Chain Driven Agripreneurship

Developing value chain linked agripreneurial enterprises: linkage with Agribusiness, crops, livestock, aquaculture

4 months

VACID Africa, DOT, SoCAA, CANIS, other agricultural and agribusiness programmes

Market processed products

Manage records

Manage risks and finances

Enterprise planning

Integrating ICTs in agribusinesses

  1. Web driven Software Development (Value Chain Process and mobility Automation)

3 months

Octagon Data Systems, other software value chain partners, CTA

  1. The Impactathon

1 month

Ycenter, Microsoft, Local Hubs in Kenya, , Octagon

  1. Implementing the Social Enterprise- Field and Community Farm Based Engagement

Research social enterprise engagement

3.5 months

VACID Africa, DOT, SoCAA, CANIS, Research Partners, Octagon, Finance Partners, County and National Government, Development Partners, Academic Institutional Partners

Farmer engagement considerations

Promoting support to farmer organizations

Financing investment in agriculture

Supporting County government engagement

Policy focus and support to National government engagement

We pick learners on the basis of social impact

This programme seeks to promote agricultural productivity. As a way of realizing this, we need productivity in crops and in livestock. These being discrete knowledge domains, we seek to inculcate the social enterprise thinking to the agriculturalists. We also seek to make the business oriented persons get to understand the business in agriculture and to do this within the social enterprise so created. But all business today runs on technology and technology platforms that make evidence decision making necessary. We shall therefore look for a person who can develop the solutions to capture agricultural data while the other makes the data available to all other stakeholders. The unit of training is therefore not one person but 5 persons comprising of:

1. Crop based agriculturalist

2. Animal based agriculturalist

3. Business, organizational development or trade trained specialist

4. A web , software oriented developer, and

5. A telecommunication and hardware/software integration specialist able to link all solutions to mobility infrastructure

The ISA will run as an umbrella support school with multiple demonstration farms and multiple social enterprises that will be supported to implement what the teams learn at the ISA. The ISA will work with the government, academic organizations, research organizations, farmer associations, economic development partners, as well as private sector partners. This collaborative effort will be geared by the focus of promoting knowledge based production that is backed by technology and business orientation that has for long not been integrated into agriculture, thereby making the sector to be poorly aligned with the expectations of those that are leaving universities.

The modeling and design of the ISA programme creates interplay between researchers, academic organizations, governments, farmer organizations, faith based organizations and financiers so at come together to play a joint role in targeting the creation of business and technology driven agriculture. We seek transformation of structures, of strategies, of systems and of staffing to nurture a new transformed agricultural space that drives industry in agriculture.

We need you. We need you....send us a mail at the Impactathon School of Agriculture. Let us know when we can see you to explain more and make you part of what will transform the rural communities in our country through the only sector that assures wealth creation.


ISA-USA is also promoted by Ycenter

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