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SHONA, Biovision Foundation unveil scheme to fund Agroecological Enterprises in East Africa

The Nyecha Accelerator & Fund will help to identify and partner with growth-oriented Agroecological Enterprises (AEEs) in Uganda and Kenya, providing them with the capacity, capital, and connections they need to grow their impact and businesses.

Mr Joachim Ewechu, SHONA Group Co-founder and CEO (Photo/Handout)

KAMPALA, UGANDA: In a bid to upscale regenerative and agroecological food production for a more holistic and circular agrifood economy in East Africa, SHONA and Biovision Foundation has jointly launched ‘The Neycha Accelerator & Fund’ to support agroecological enterprises.

According to Fabio Leippert, Co-Lead Policy & Advocacy, Biovision Foundation, the launch of The Neycha Accelerator & Fund is based on extensive research on Agroecological Enterprises (AEEs) in Kenya and Uganda which call for support in areas of access to capacity building and suitable finance in order for them to grow and scale their impact.

“Based on our extensive research, The Neycha Accelerator & Fund is designed to address what AEEs in Kenya and Uganda need most to grow and scale their impact: access to capacity building and suitable finance. Together, the AEEs will be able to contribute to the transformation of food systems – create new jobs and resilient communities, regenerate soils, and create fair and sustainable food systems for everyone and in harmony with nature,” Fabio said.

The Nyecha Accelerator & Fund will help to identify and partner with growth-oriented Agroecological Enterprises (AEEs) in Uganda and Kenya, providing them with the capacity, capital, and connections they need to grow their impact and businesses.

Agroecology is a sustainable and social approach to agriculture that promotes the production of healthy and nutritious food while regenerating soil fertility, improving biodiversity (animals, plants, and microorganisms), and strengthening the livelihood of farmers and their communities. 

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By supporting agroecological enterprises, Fabio noted that Neycha will be looking out to advance food system innovators and entrepreneurs who are working toward more regenerative and agroecological food production and contributing to a more holistic and circular agrifood economy in Uganda and Kenya

The target enterprises are businesses operating across the entire agricultural value chain and help farmers transition to agroecology or promote the 13 principles of agroecology through as listed below: 

  • Organic input supply and pre-production support for farmers practising agroecology;
  • Entrepreneurial farms practising agroecology beyond a single farm;
  • Purchasing, trading and marketing agroecological produce; 
  • Processing agroecological produce; 
  • Retailing agroecological produce and products in markets, shops, and supermarkets; and, 
  • Promoting consumption of agroecological produce and products in restaurants, hotels, homes etc.

Under this fund, the benefit that successful agroecological enterprises shall have to include the following:

  • Improved well-being due to increased access to safe, healthy, and nutritious locally adapted food;
  • Generating local wealth due to more jobs, increased incomes, increased financial returns, and higher tax revenue;
  • Building a healthy territorial market due to more successful and resilient local businesses; and
  • Building cyclical economies by building resilience, improving soil health, and improving biodiversity. 

By merging suitable capacity building with capital and access to networks, The Neycha Accelerator & Fund aims to highlight and build the business viability of agroecological enterprises in Uganda and Kenya and make agroecology a bankable sector among investors and funds.

Fabio Leippert adds that the partnership with agroecological enterprises in Uganda and Kenya will create enhancement in the aspect of building their capacity through tailored business training, mentorship, and business coaching from top business and agroecology experts focused on strengthening their business model and value chain, developing a clear growth plan, strengthening their agroecology impact, getting certifications.

Each enterprise will be in a position to get capital of between USD 10,000 and USD 50,000 through direct loans and revenue share loans, tailored to the needs of the business, to be used for working capital and asset acquisition to grow revenue.

Nyecha will also create connections through linkages to markets, introductions to potential partners, investors & stakeholders and being showcased as an AEE role model.

Joachim Ewechu, CEO of SHONA described Neycha as unique; “The Neycha Accelerator & Fund’s model is unique; by combining capacity building with capital, the agroecological enterprises we partner with will be able to implement their learning during the program and not wait a long time to get the capital they need to do this”, he said.

According to Ewechu, they will refinance growth-oriented enterprises multiple times and further support them to raise additional external investment beyond the limit Nyecha will be providing.

“Growth-oriented agroecological enterprises will be able to refinance multiple times, and we will support them to raise additional external investment beyond what we are providing. By supporting the success of agroecological enterprises and showcasing successful business models, we hope to increase the flow of capital into agroecological enterprises in East Africa,” said Ewechu, adding “Through The Neycha Accelerator & Fund, we plan to work with at least 20 agroecological enterprises in a year and make at least 12 investments a year in qualifying agroecological enterprises in Uganda and Kenya.”

Ewechu call upon people dealing in agroecological enterprises to tap the golden opportunity which will blockbuster in food system transformation that will improve food safety, and biodiversity conservation among others.

“We will all enjoy the benefits of agroecology, including increased healthy & nutritious food; enhanced soil health; economic benefits for farmers; increased biodiversity; improved food security and resilience; and so much more.”

Who Qualifies for The Nyecha Accelerator & Fund?

To qualify for The Neycha Accelerator and Fund, agroecological enterprises will need to:

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  • Be a registered For-Profit enterprise operating in Uganda or Kenya.
  • Be at least 3 years old and past the pilot stage with an existing customer base and sales generating at least USD 40,000 (or equivalent in Uganda shillings or Kenya shillings) in annual revenue.
  • Have a clear market opportunity and strong value proposition matching this opportunity – its okay if this is not fully and clearly outlined. What we care about is a viable business model.
  • Be profitable or have a clear path to profitability with a viable business model. 
  • Have at least 3 years of audited books or 24 months management accounts.
  • Have a clear 2-3 years growth plan. This does not need to be fully and clearly outlined for example through a business plan.
  • Be interested in building their capacity and attracting capital to achieve their growth plan.

We are excited about the impact that the Agroecological Enterprises will have in East Africa to promote agroecology as a practice.

We are currently actively looking for agroecological enterprises to partner with. If you are interested in joining this journey, our applications are currently open through our website www.neychaaccelerator.co



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