Developing an Agribusiness Incubator in the Dairy Value Chain (CoELIB Dairy)
The NICHE project (127/139) titled DAIRYTRAIN (Build capacity to deliver competent graduates for enhanced competitiveness in the dairy value chain in Kenya) is based on the need to address human capacity gap in the dairy value chain (DVC) through capacity building of Egerton University (EGU) and Dairy Training Institute (DTI) to deliver competent graduates for enhanced competitiveness in the DVC through delivery of quality, market relevant and gender sensitive programs and research. To make all the results delivered by the project more effective, there is a further step to pursue to stimulate a real link between the future “Competent Graduates” and the dairy private sector. This link is a dairy agribusiness incubator where young graduates and innovative entrepreneurs can share a common space, discuss new ideas, meet prominent entrepreneurs, develop new start-ups, get specific trainings (business model and entrepreneurship), and initiate new companies and so on.
Young graduates and innovative entrepreneurs that have demonstrated interest in developing an economic activity in the dairy sector will be provided with infrastructure support, start-up capital, capacity building, mentorship and internship, and networking. Target group will not be limited to EGU graduates but also to graduates and young entrepreneurs coming from other institutions.
Many universities nowadays host business incubators to help the graduates to move from student to entrepreneur. These incubators provide working space (with internet), as well as specific trainings, mentor support, PR support, networking support and facilitating access to capital for their start-ups. At Wageningen University, for example there is the StartHub business incubator (http://www.starthubwageningen.nl/) and this concept is spreading even faster in emerging economies. New innovations are needed at different levels of the value chain and competitions promoted by agribusiness incubators offer an ideal ground for their development. Recently, Victor Otieno a former student of EGU won a prize for the innovative “Cowsoko” (http://cowsoko.com) an online dairy farming platform. This small initiative is an extremely new approach for many universities that could represent a key element towards the development of innovative approaches to dairy sector development in Kenya. Developing a stronger link between the universities and the labour market by creating a space for students to develop their own start-ups is completely in line with the current trends in the education sector.
• Development of incubator curriculum (identification of specific short courses and possible experts/partners to implement them) and incubator by-law based on experiences from other incubators, in the region and Netherlands.
• Development of a webpage and/or a Facebook page to enhance visibility and dissemination of project activities and results and facilitate exchange of experiences.
• Short courses on business model/plan development, agribusiness, and networking for business will be organized.
• A competition for graduates and young entrepreneurs on dairy innovation start-ups will be organized through an agribusiness challenge.
• A factsheet on the experiences of the graduates and young entrepreneurs will be produced and shared with the Niche network and other stakeholders.
• Egerton University will have an initial dairy business incubator that can be used as a model for the development of a broader agri-business hub.
• Egerton University students will have a space and specific services for them to start their own start-ups, with equipment, access to knowledge and mentorship.
• This pilot incubator could represent a model for similar projects. Students and graduates of other Niche projects will be stimulated to participate in both the short courses and the competition at the incubator