From providing healthy and nutritious meals to creating gainful employment, Agro Kings, producers of Nana’s Rice, are examples 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% of its management team being women.
According to Nana Owusu-Achau, the growing import 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% of its rice consumption, worth about $4 billion in the last decade. Meanwhile, the average rice farmer earns 40% less than what they could earn. This needs to be corrected, knowing that 1 in 4 of the world’s population will be from Africa by the turn of a century – Nana said.
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). In a LinkedIn post, Mr. Solomon 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. He visited Agro Kings Farms in Akuse with the AfDB country manager accompanying him.
In his post, he narrated: “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 added that AfDB is establishing Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks (YEIBs) to support youth entrepreneurs like Nana throughout his 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 Mr. Adegbie-Quaynor, the YEIB and Agro Kings could work with over 2,000 rice farmers in the Akuse/Asutuare area to establish and co-own a specialized equipment rental company so that these significant CAPEX investments can be leveraged more affordably across many farms.
Nana leads a young team (90% below 35 years) and gender-diverse management team along with a Brazilian agronomist and rice field manager. In 4 years, they have already engaged more than 350 smallholder farmers, empowering them to increase earnings by 40% and transforming the lives of over 3000 families along the value chain. They are expanding their production to 10,000 acres. They have three main crops with rice production and milling as their focus, but they also produce and process sweet potatoes and chili peppers – visit their online store (www.agrokings.io)