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: