“ It is important for African governments, researchers, private sector, educationists and development partners’ to appreciate and align resources towards innovative skills and entrepreneurship for job and wealth creation”, said Ms. Christine Rich, Special Adviser in the Office for Innovation and Sector Services at Technical University of Denmark. Ms. Rich said this during a half day visit and stakeholder meeting at FARA offices in Accra, Ghana on 30th October 2015. The visit was aimed at enhancing the understanding of the UniBRAIN model success story in Africa and exploring opportunities for further collaboration and partnership for creating a lasting impact. She was hosted by FARA UniBRAIN facility and the African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN) during her mission to Africa.
During the visit Ms. Rich was welcomed by the Executive Director (ED) of FARA, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo who appreciated the contribution of the Danish government towards fighting unemployment and poverty in Africa through capacity building, technical and most importantly financial support that has generated significant impact in Africa. He took an example of the UniBRAIN program financial support to FARA which is now trending in African news, government meetings and other development partners’ agenda as an excellent business model for job and wealth creation. Further the model has been touted as an opportunity for agriculture transformation in Africa through incubation.
In his remarks the ED of FARA shared his experience of visiting two incubates young graduates in Uganda and Ghana who have been able to start their own businesses through incubation support of UniBRAIN. These young prominent CEOs are now earning an average of 500USD per month that is above normal government salary rates in most African countries while, at the same time, creating employment to an average of 5 persons each in their small scale businesses.
Mr. Alex Ariho, the FARA UniBRAIN facility coordinator thanked UniBRAIN partners, especially African Universities, Research Organizations (SROs), private sector representatives and African governments for the support registered towards UniBRAIN program in Africa. He indicated that an average of 3.5m USD has been mobilized by African development partners to leverage Danida funding in the last three years, and indicated the high potential for growth of the support to the tune of 15M USD in the next 2 years. He noted that Danida support to the UniBRAIN Programme in Africa was a golden opportunity for incubators that has led to the birth of the African Agribusiness Incubator Network (AAIN) which is a private sector company whose mandate is to incubate incubators in Africa for job and wealth creation. He, however, indicated that his concern now is not about sustainability of UniBRAIN project but how fast to respond to the emerging opportunities created by UniBRAIN and increased demand by African governments to upscale UniBRAIN in 54 African countries. He indicated that a new Programme the African Agribusiness incubation Programme AAIP has been developed to respond to the emerging opportunities and support sustainability of UniBRAIN as well as contribute towards up scaling of best practices and lessons in Africa that will require an investment of about 196 M USD in the next 5 five years (2016 -2020)
The meeting was attended, among others, by Dan Acquaye, a board member of AAIN and CEO Agrimpact Company Ltd who appreciated UniBRAIN initiative for bridging the gap between African Universities and Research and Private sector, especially for technology commercialization unlike before. He indicated an increased interface between Private sector and Universities as well as increased investment in agribusiness trade by the private sector hence job and wealth creation. Dr Emmanuel Adu CEO of CCLEAr and winner of third best Agribusiness incubator award in Africa 2015 conferred by AAIN, called upon Danida, FARA and other development agencies to support the up scaling of UniBRAIN and take advantage of best practices, lessons and achievements registered to date in Africa
“I have lost my microscope since 2010 when we established the UniBRAIN incubator in Ghana. Many other scientists have joined and we see results of our research now through jobs and business created through research and technology transfer”. Dr Adu CEO CCLEAR
“For example our incubator directly employs 570 people in livestock sector and youth are actively engaged and running their own businesses and currently makes an average sales of our products and services of 100,000USD per annum”, he added.
Ms. Christine Rich indicated the desire for the government of Denmark to enhance capacity building, agribusiness education and public private sector partnership development in the next years to come. She also pledged continued collaboration and partnership with African governments and other development partners towards economic transformation in Africa. The meeting was attended by FARA staff, UniBRAIN staff, Incubator representatives, African Agribusiness Incubator network staff and a Board member of AAIN.