Steven Carr

In early 2020 the Agripreneurship Alliance was commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to undertake research on the Agribusiness Incubation & Acceleration landscape across sub-Saharan Africa.  The African Union Commission (AUC) requested that the study be expanded to include North Africa, so that the entire African continent was included.  Once the continental draft was completed a series of five regional seminars, hosted via Zoom, were conducted to inform, and validate the study.  The report was launched on 24 April 2024 by the FAO  and is now available for download (here). 

“The overall conclusion from the study is that agribusiness incubators and accelerators are already playing an important role in supporting enterprise development and growth-oriented businesses.  However, given that agribusiness incubation and acceleration is still a relatively recent development in Africa, there is very limited knowledge among policymakers and practitioners alike on the establishment, sustainable operation, and impact of these incubators.  Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has required a rethinking of how agribusiness incubators operate and how they can provide effective support through information and communication technologies (ICTs) and digitalization[1]”.

The Agripreneurship Alliance was launched in 2017 to help support the development of young African agri-food entrepreneurs and the eco-system of which they are a part.  In collaboration with partners across the continent, the Agripreneurship Alliance has provided training to over 1,200 entrepreneurs, reviewed 275 Business Plans and been instrumental in guiding the launch and / or growth of 180 businesses.  Through the research that we have undertaken on behalf of the FAO and other clients and through our networks and activities, we are very aware of the positive changes within the African agri-food eco-system over the last few years, particularly as more African led and African based Entrepreneur Support Organisations have become active in countries across the continent.  This growth and diversity within the eco-system is very encouraging and much needed, however, there is still much more to do, and we hope that this report will help guide strategic initiatives at continental and national levels.  

The Agripreneurship Alliance looks forward to continuing to contribute to the growth and development of entrepreneurial agrifood eco-systems across Africa through provision of high-quality research and direct support to entrepreneurs with  partners across the continent. 

The Agripreneurship Alliance would like to thank the FAO and AUC for the opportunity to undertake this research project and would particularly like to recognise the energy, dedication, and insight that Athifa Ali, Programme Officer from the FAO South– South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST)  and Stephanie Gallatova, Agribusiness Officer from the FAO Agrifood Economics Division brought to the project and the support that they provided to the Agripreneurship Alliance team. 

We also recognise how important it was to visit and engage with a range of incubators and entrepreneur support organisations at the beginning of the research project and would like to thank the Ethiopian Agribusiness Acceleration Platform; Raizcorp and the Mobile Agri Skills Development and Training in South Africa, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, AgriLab’s Ventures Platform and Wennovation Hub in Nigeria; and RUFORUM and CURAD in Uganda for being so generous with their time, hospitality and willingness to engage.  In addition, we thank AgriRowad and Athar in Egypt; blueMoon in Ethiopia; Timbali in South Africa; ENABLE Youth Uganda as well as 2Scale and the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) for their contributions to this research project. 

Steven Carr, CEO

Agripreneurship Alliance

7 May 2024



 This study aims at providing a baseline of the agribusiness incubation and acceleration landscape in Africa. It leveraged both primary and secondary data on agribusiness incubators and incubation programmes from Africa. The analysis on the agribusiness incubation landscape was carried out using secondary data gathered through mapping and analysis of over 430 enterprise support organizations (ESO) from across the continent. One of the main challenges in undertaking the study has been the lack of publicly available information on the agribusiness incubation and acceleration programmes and their impacts. The study has therefore produced 16 ESO1 profiles to provide further insight into the business models, services, and key results. 

Significant growth of agribusiness incubation in Africa is observed only since 2010 – about 20 years behind more developed countries. Eight countries (Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa and Uganda) make up 59 percent of ESOs with their headquarters located in Africa. In general, francophone West and Central Africa lags behind other regions, but an emerging entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem is observed. 

The pilot agroprocessing facilities is one of the key “value propositions” that agribusiness incubators offer to the agricultural entrepreneurs and SMEs compared to a generic business incubator. Nonetheless, establishing these facilities are costly. Out of the 430 ESOs mapped, approximately 35 percent of them (150) are entirely dedicated to agriculture and agribusiness and only 17 out of 150 ESOs that focus on agriculture sector offers any kind of pilot processing facilities to their incubatees. Moreover, based on existing literature, it takes a minimum of 5–7 years before an incubator reaches maturity. Thus, public funding will continue to be critical given the cost and time required to establish and sustain incubators. 

Few countries in Africa have policies, strategies or incubation support programmes. There are many examples of government and donor-funded initiatives that focused on multiplication of incubation programmes and incubators with no coordination or consistency with the overall economic strategy. Thus, the potential of agribusiness incubators and incubation programmes in Africa remains unexploited. South Africa is an exception, which has an incubation policy and a well-established Incubation Support Programme. 

The overall study conclusion is that agribusiness incubators already play an important role in supporting SMAEs, but the incubation ecosystem remains underdeveloped. Over 230 of the 430 ESOs specifically refer to the provision of funding or support to obtain funding as part of their service offering. Similarly, 45 ESOs indicate coaching and 60 mention mentoring among their services. The 16 ESOs analysed provide promising numbers of new SME establishment and job creation; however, more analysis is needed on the type and quality of jobs as well as data on the survival of start-ups. The recommendations presented in this report primarily target policymakers, development partners and financial intermediaries seeking to maximize the impact of publicly funded agribusiness incubation and acceleration programmes. The key recommendations are summarized below. 

R1 Policy: Improve policies, frameworks and guidelines in order to create an enabling environment and ecosystem for agribusiness incubation and acceleration in Africa. Action areas includes establishing mechanisms for dialogue between policymakers and incubators and ESOs; developing incubation policies and guidance documents; undertaking further research and analysis into agribusiness entrepreneurship and incubation ecosystems in Africa; and increasing government investment in connectivity and digital and physical infrastructure to strengthen Africa’s digital ecosystems to leverage the potential of agritech. 

R2 Strategy: Adopt a strategic approach to establishing agribusiness incubators as a structured and integrated mechanism for SMAE development and new enterprise creation for agrifood transformation in Africa. Action areas include having feasibility studies and business plans as pre-requisites to establish new incubators; establish or scale up agribusiness incubators around strategic value chains for Africa and prioritize establishment of new incubators in geographic areas and value chain segments that are currently lagging behind. 

R3 Support: Establish incubation support programmes to provide financial and technical support to help sustainability-oriented agribusiness incubators to take them to maturity. Action areas include the need to strengthen the capacity of incubator managers and key personnel; provision of financial grants for establishment or scaling up of agribusiness incubators; using existing incubators as service providers for government and donor-funded entrepreneurship projects; collaboration with financial institutions to develop a sustainable incubatee financing strategy and supporting the professionalization of incubators through due diligence and certification.

R4 Evidence: Promote systematic documentation and the sharing of knowledge and best practices on agribusiness incubator establishment, sustainability strategies and their impacts. Action areas include developing a light agribusiness benchmarking framework; providing incentives for documentation and sharing of results and impacts; organizing South–South and North-South exchanges for peer-to-peer learnings; organizing events to share and showcase agribusiness incubation experiences from Africa. 

R5 Networking: Strengthen networking partnerships and collaboration among the ESOs and incubators and accelerators in the region. Action areas include strengthening capacities of existing agribusiness incubator networks and platforms; promoting practical collaboration opportunities among the incubators to co-create agribusiness incubation related knowledge and training programmes and modernizing agricultural curriculums in universities.


[1&2] FAO. 2023. Agribusiness incubation and acceleration landscape in Africa – Role of agribusiness incubation in promoting agricultural entrepreneurship and enterprise development. Rome. FAO. 2023. 

* The email will not be published on the website.