In an article titled ‘UMA in drive to bridge skills gap’ (New Vision, February 12), it was indicated that UMA is implementing a project tiled ‘Higher education, science and technology (HEST) project.
It was also stated that of the 3,500 students who were in the field in 2016, 40 per vent of them were retained by the respective companies where they worked as interns while 60 per cent ventured into private business.
These are steps in the right direction and should be applauded. However, the journey from founding a project to growing it into a successful company, is often a long one. It is often full of challenges, including changing markets and technology.
There are some additional areas to focus on if we are to extend and deepen a vibrant startup and scale up the ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs to build high growth of businesses. The role of agribusiness incubators in agribusiness development cannot be overemphasised, It is one thing to possess a winning idea and another to develop it into a viable and successful business.
According to InfoDev “…it’s broadly accepted that incubation programmes can increase survival rates dramatically when programmes are well-run and start-ups pay for services”. It is reported that about 60 to 80 per cent of new businesses fail within the first five years in operation.
But start-ups nurtured within an incubator, for example, in the Innovation Hub in South Africa, have a success rate of 75-81 per cent. Successful firms tend to have established systems or processes across a range of operational capabilities. This include systems or processes meant to improve customer relationships, develop sales channels, identify growth drivers, manage finances and set strategy.
The agribusiness incubation process focuses on nurturing innovative early-stage agro-based enterprises that have high growth potential to become competitive businesses. Agribusiness incubators often facilitate start-ups and growth of innovative value adding agri-businesses.
Agribusiness incubation entails directly working with early stage enterprises and facilitation of their growth through a number of services (shared facilities and equipment, business development, technology, finance, mentoring and networking).