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What is Agro Initiative Zimbabwe? Print

(Kindly note the AIZ competition is currently closed)

TechnoServe runs a business plan competition called Agro Initiative Zimbabwe. The program supports promising ideas in agriculture by awarding up to $50,000 in seed capital prizes and tailored technical assistance to small- and medium-sized businesses that demonstrate inclusion of smallholder farmers in their supply chains and can serve as models for the broader industry.  To date, 39 businesses (25 under Incubation and 14 under Ideation) in diverse categories including staple crops, horticulture, livestock, food processing, mobile agriculture, essential oils, aquaculture, apiculture, financial services and dairy have been signed up in 2 to 3 years contractual agreements.

Instrumental to the organisations initiatives is technical assistance; this element addresses client constraints in areas such as evaluation, development and implementation of risk mitigation strategies, market linkages, corporate strategy formulation and implementation, standards, systems and procedures essential for raising capital. Technical assistance grants are utilized through the provision of TechnoServe expertise, local and international consultants, training at business and farmer level, workshops, exchange visits and seminars.

Agro Initiative Zimbabwe program is a uniquely designed inclusive model incorporating promotion of innovation, gender integration and access to finance as expressed through the 4 components which make up the program – Ideation, Incubation, Gender Smart Business Solutions and Access to Finance.

AIZ Ideation Component

"Ideation" seeks to address private sector’s reluctance to innovate in this tough Zimbabwe economic environment where funds are limited and risk of failure is high. This program was established in order to take a step back in the business cycle to include idea-to-launch process as a way of assisting businesses/applicants to become more innovative with the goal of generating transformative (new to world, new to company or enhancements) business ideas that are impactful to the targeted Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) population. The initiative is thus designed to support early stage innovative business ideas providing risk capital to finance the initial roll out of the business idea before commercialisation.

21 Ideas were short-listed from 3 cohorts : Entrepreneurs, Small to Medium Enterprises, Medium to Large Enterprises - and managed through the TechnoServe Ideation Stage-Gate model, with  eventual funding and technical assistance being provided upon approval of the business cases. To date 14 entities have been contracted, 6 female and 8 male owned/managed/led.

AIZ Incubation Component

"AIZ Incubation" component has run as a business plan competition, for the past 5 years, targeted at small and medium enterprises across the agricultural value chain focusing on ideas and concepts that have passed the ideation phase and are commercially viable and sustainable.

Since 2011, 5 Business Plan Competitions have been conducted and 25 prizes awarded. Promising ideas are supported across the agriculture value chain by awarding up to $50,000 seed capital and tailored technical assistance package to winning businesses that mainstream smallholder farmers in their supply chains and can serve as models for the broader industry. Prize money must be used to implement the small farmer model, and disbursements are performance-based instalments.

Gender Component

The goal of the gender component is to increase economic opportunities for poor households in Zimbabwe through agribusiness market system development while testing the hypothesis that market system development, if facilitated with a gender transformative approach, can increase gender equality and household incomes through the increased economic empowerment of women.

Technical Assistance provision forms part of supporting clients with the development of business-smart gender strategies, informed by baseline surveys and research to ascertain gender roles at the supplier level (small scale farming households) and business level (ownership, management and operations).

The Gender component is an overarching initiative designed to ensure that the Agro Initiative Zimbabwe program portfolio is gender sensitive.

AIZ Impact

Since its inception in 2011, Agro Initiative Zimbabwe (AIZ) has positively impacted 42,399 rural households. Seed capital disbursed to date is US$1,212,108 to 25 businesses under the Incubation component resulting in US$7,214,353 incremental business revenue and creation of 235 jobs. As a proxy of sustainability we have successfully assisted 5 companies within the portfolio raise over US$2, 4 million from different sources of funding both local and international.