Rural youth in East Africa awarded share of $1million prize to develop and scale up youth-owned agri-enterprise

OpenIDEO and the GHR Foundation announced Producers Direct as one of 5 winners of the 2018 BridgeBuilder Challenge. 675+ ideas were initially submitted to address urgent global challenges in radically new ways. As one of the 5 winners, Producers Direct was awarded $256,575 in seed funding to launch YouthDirect, a youth-led agricultural enterprise.

The future of food is at risk, as is our planet. By 2050 our population will reach 10bn. Food production will need to increase by 70% to match this growth, placing significant strain on limited resources. 500m smallholders are responsible for producing 70% of the world’s food supply, but they are ageing, with the worldwide average over 60 years. With growing populations, we are also seeing increasing youth unemployment. In the next decade, 1 billion youth will enter the job market. 600 million of them will not find jobs.

YouthDirect solves these growing global threats. It offers young people an exciting opportunity to lead a pioneering youth-led agri-enterprise, driving sustainable food production in Africa. Nairobi-based Sylvia Ng’eno, Producers Direct’s Head of Programmes said, “We are living in an era of Peak Youth – with more young people on the planet than ever before. This provides us with an exciting opportunity to empower youth to solve the world’s greatest threats.”

Over the next 24 months, Producers Direct will utilise seed funding to launch a youth-owned food brand: YouthDirect, transforming food production and food value chains from the ground up. YouthDirect will empower the next generation of agripreneurs. It will initially work with a group of 5,000 youth and local farming cooperatives to promote inclusion in global food systems, providing a viable – and sustainable – livelihood for young people, while safeguarding the future of food and planet.

“Together, we will provide exciting and meaningful opportunities for youth” said Producers Direct’s Youth Coordinator Gilbert Misoi “we are working with youth to innovate and share new ideas with their peers. This has been such an amazing opportunity and we are very excited to link up with youth from across East Africa and build on our successes.”

The BridgeBuilder Challenge, led by GHR Foundation in partnership with OpenIDEO, was designed to use open innovation to identify and strengthen solutions to urgent global challenges at the intersection of peace, prosperity and planet. Learn more about the BridgeBuilder Challenge here: 

JOB: User-Centered Developer

We are seeking an enthusiastic User-Centered Developer to work with our award winning NGO supporting smallholder farmers in East Africa and Latin America to access, understand and interpret data to make life changing decisions on their farms.

We are seeking an enthusiastic User-Centered Developer to work with our award winning NGO. Producers Direct works with 600,000 farmers in East Africa and Latin America and is led by farmers, for farmers. By co-investing with this network, Producers Direct is creating lasting and vital impact with the farmers who grow 70% of the world’s food.

The Role

You will work with  our small, but dedicated, team across UK, Kenya and Peru, and be based in either our London or Nairobi office. You will deliver a user centered design approach to develop a platform (incl. analogue and digital components – such as paper logbook, apps and dashboards) that integrates analogue and digital data collection, and provides usable and actionable data insights for smallholder farmers. This is a great opportunity to use your UX and software development skills to support farmers to access, understand and interpret data to make life changing decisions on their farms; making a real impact on farmers’ lives.

Key tasks include:

  • Create a strategy for delivering a participatory, user-design process with farmers and Producer Organisations (farming cooperatives)
  • Co-deliver workshops with our programmes team for farmers and youth in rural settings in East Africa and Latin America
  • Develop relevant tools (platform / app /dashboard – see above) necessary to collect and/or process analogue data and deliver insights to farmers
  • Carry out iterative development process with smallholders and youth on the tool in response to farmers’ feedback and needs
  • Integrate data output from partner organisations into the tool
  • Integrate on-farm data into Producers Direct’s impact dashboard
  • Other activities as requested by Producers Direct leadership

What we can offer:

As a small charitable organisation, we don’t have huge resources. However, we can offer you: a dynamic, creative and rewarding working environment; Salary commensurate with experience; 6-month fixed term contract with potential for extension based on results; flexible PT or FT working options; hands on experience and responsibility from day one; the opportunity to travel and work with smallholder farmers in rural East Africa and Latin America; and the chance to make a real impact in a small, but ambitious organisation!

Essential requirements:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of relevant programming tools used for app / software development as appropriate
  • Experience of working with software such as Tableau, Google Drive, WordPress
  • Experience in creating and delivering UX and human / user centred design processes – ideally in an international context
  • Flexible approach to problem-solving that may include using low / non tech solutions and willingness to work with limited resources
  • Comfortable working in a small team environment across multiple cultures and languages
  • Willingness to make most of opportunity to travel often to rural areas of East Africa  for 2 or 3 weeks at a time
  • Eligible to work and reside in the UK or Kenya – unfortunately we are not in the position to support visa applications



We are looking for someone who is:

  • Eager and ready to play a key role in co-designing and delivering an impactful data system for farmers
  • Passionate about our model and approach to supporting and empowering smallholder farmers
  • Capable of managing app development and data management, but willing to try new things and take the unconventional (often non digital) approach to solving problems
  • Creative and innovative, and excited about working with a small, passionate, diverse & creative team

Nice to haves

  • Conversational Spanish and/or Swahili
  • Experience in working in rural setting with farmers or low IT literacy populations
  • Experience working for social enterprise / NGO / charitable organisation
  • Knowledge / understanding of the European Union’s new General Data Protec
  • tion Regulation (GDPR)

Additional Application Instructions

If this sounds like you: Please send your CV, and a cover letter (1-page) to: 

In your cover letter, please include one paragraph addressing the following question: How would you work with farmers in isolated, unconnected rural settings to co-design tools that can help analyse on-farm data and make decisions based on the analysis.

Application Deadline: 28th September 2018 Please note: Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted