Equipping young entrepreneurs in Malawi with digital tool and skills

SANE Malawi ERA Training

Ten young entrepreneurs from Malawi were recently offered hands-on training to help them get acquainted with the main components and use of a solar-powered smart projector kit that each of them had won through the Access Agriculture Young Entrepreneur Challenge Fund initiative. The competition was conducted jointly be Access Agriculture and the USAID-funded Strengthening Agriculture & Nutrition Extension (SANE) Activity.

The winners of the Challenge Fund, known as Entrepreneurs for Rural Access (ERAs), were selected from 9 of the 10 districts in Malawi in which Access Agriculture and SANE ran the competition. SANE strengthens the capacity of the Government of Malawi’s Department of Agricultural Extension Services to work with service providers to deliver extension and advisory services.

The ERAs are part of a network of innovative young people who design sustainable business models based on using the smart projector (containing all Access Agriculture farmer-training videos) in rural areas to bring about a positive change in the lives of farmers, especially women and youth, in their communities. Access Agriculture promotes agroecology and rural entrepreneurship through capacity development and South-South exchange of quality farmer-training videos.

The training session was conducted under SANE Activity in Machinga, Malawi by the Access Agriculture Entrepreneur Coach and colleagues based in the country. It consisted of theoretical and practical sessions, including:

  • A practical demonstration of the smart projector which can be used even in offline and off-grid environments.
  • An overview of the ERAs’ role as private e-extension service providers who can facilitate last-mile delivery of the Access Agriculture farmer-training videos
  • Basic aspects of an easy-to-use mobile app to monitor and track data on video use and impact on beneficiaries

Extension workers from each of the nine District Agriculture Offices where the 10 ERAs are from, also attended the training course as the ERAs will work closely with them in reaching out to farmers. “These smart projectors will be used to reach many more farmers in the districts, compared to just verbally delivering the extension messages,” said Jessie Mwambongo, one of the extension agents from Machinga district.