…. for excellence in agriculture and youth entrepreneurship
From providing healthy and nutritious meals to creating gainful employment, Agro Kings – producer of Nana’s Rice – is an example of large-scale youth innovation in agriculture and entrepreneurship with women at the forefront.
Founded by Nana Owusu-Achau, a 32-year-old Ghanaian, Agro Kings focuses on farming, agro-processing and agri-tech, with 60 percent of its management team being women.
According to Nana Owusu-Achau, the growing imports of food and the continent’s rising population necessitated abandoning his budding finance and investment career on Wall Street in the US and taking up farming to feed the continent.
Currently, Ghana imports 70 percent of its rice consumption – worth about US$4billion over the last decade. Meanwhile, the average rice farmer earns 40 percent less than what they could earn. This needs to be corrected, Mr. Owusu-Achau said, knowing that 1 in 4 of the world’s population will be from Africa by the turn of the century.
The climatic consciousness, youthful management and growing impact of Agro Kings work caught the attention of the Vice President of the African Development Bank Africa Group (AfDB), Solomon Adegbie-Quaynor. In a LinkedIn post, Mr. Adegbie-Quaynor couldn’t hide his admiration and acknowledgment of excellence displayed through Agro Kings’ various arms – including farming, processing, distribution, smallholder farmer engagement, and the use of technology in its operations. This moved him to visit Agro Kings Farms in Akuse, with the AfDB country manager accompanying him.
“While a young company, they are very conscious of and are adapting climate resilience into their operations – use solar power, use of irrigation channels, recycling wastewater and rainwater,” he said in his post.
Mr. Adegbie-Quaynor added that AfDB is establishing Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIBs) to support youth entrepreneurs like Nana throughout her entrepreneurship journey. The YEIB will invest equity as angel investors, facilitate an introduction to venture capital and PE funds subsequently, and finally provide entrepreneurs credit guarantees to raise loans from local banks.
According to him, the YEIB and Agro Kings could work with over 2,000 rice farmers in the Akuse/Asutuare area to establish and co-own a specialised equipment rental company so that these significant capital investments can be leveraged more affordably across many farms.
Nana Owusu-Achau leads a young team (90 percent below 35 years) and gender-diverse management team, along with a Brazilian agronomist and rice field manager. In 4 years, the company has already engaged more than 350 smallholder farmers; empowering them to increase earnings by 40 percent and transforming the lives of over 3,000 families along the value chain.
Agro Kings is expanding its production to 10,000 acres. It has three main crops with rice production and milling as the main focus, but it also produces and processes sweet-potatoes and chilli peppers.