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New Accelerator & Fund Program To Support Agroecological Enterprises In Uganda, Kenya

Joachim Ewechu, SHONA Group Co-founder and CEO

SHONA and Biovision Foundation have launched The Neycha Accelerator & Fund (Neycha) 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.

By supporting agroecological enterprises, Neycha is looking to advance food system innovators and entrepreneurs who are working toward a more regenerative and agroecological food production and contributing to a more holistic and circular agrifood economy in Uganda and Kenya.

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.

Agroecological enterprises are businesses operating across the entire agricultural value chain and help farmers transition to agroecology or promote the 13 principles of agroecology through:

  • 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.

Successful agroecological enterprises have several benefits, some of which are:

  • Improved wellbeing 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.

“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 Leippert, Co-Lead Policy & Advocacy, Biovision Foundation.

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

Through our partnership with them, agroecological enterprises in Uganda and Kenya will be able to:

  • Build 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, and more.
  • 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.
  • Grow their connections through linkages to markets, introductions to potential partners, investors & stakeholders and being showcased as an AEE role model.

“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,” said Joachim Ewechu, SHONA’s CEO. “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.”

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

  • 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 audited books or 24 months management accounts.
  • Have a clear 2-3 year 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.

“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,” remarked Joachim.

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

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