Linking youth innovation to value chain aggregators in the agrifood sector


Private agribusiness companies working with the EBRD and FAO are creating opportunities for young entrepreneurs to transform value chains across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and Türkiye to be more sustainable and inclusive.


The EBRD and FAO are carrying out pilot activities in collaboration with two private sector partners: Migros Ticaret A.Ş. in Türkiye and Savola Foods Company in Egypt to stimulate youth innovation and investment in digital technologies. The pilot project was launched at the 2022 World Food Forum.

Keeping pace with rapid advances in technology and having the capacity to deploy them in agribusiness is a challenge for emerging and developing countries including in the EBRD’s countries of operation. Added to this, are global efforts to ‘build back better’ in the face of recent crises that have highlighted vulnerabilities in our food systems.

Meeting new challenges requires new thinking which is the motivation behind this initiative to:

  • harness fresh ideas and youth innovation and connect them to agribusiness that can invest and scale.

  • develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, including in smallholder rural producer communities.

  • encourage youth to develop  ideas by promoting and providing opportunities for research and development, and eventual investment – an estimated 40 percent of young people are unemployed or living in poverty globally.

Shifting Mindsets, Fostering Connections: AGRIFOOD Innovation OPPORTUNITIES WITH THE PRIVATE SECTOR

The project team is hosting this session at the World Food Flagship Forum 2023 on 17th October to explore aspects of open innovation and how the private sector can leverage this while collaborating with different stakeholders. There will be lessons drawn from the pilot project as well as representation from winners who will share their experiences.



  • Virtual empathy sprint (2023) – nine teams (selected from 25 applications including from Türkiye, Lebanon and several African countries) participated in a series of workshops and assignments on applying Design Thinking on key ventures of their start-ups to engage farmers to use technology to support sustainable farming.
  • Prototyping sprint (2023) – three teams selected from the empathy sprint underwent rapid prototyping in the context of products, services and interventions, at a sprint in Türkiye to identify opportunities to apply and define design thinking in their work. The sprint included a session with farmers.


The three winning teams that participated in the experiential study in Türkiye were Aldeha, FreshSens and Görsentam.


  • Coaching session (2023) – four teams (selected following a shortlisting of the original 65 applications from the African continent and the Middle East regions) attended a coaching session where research teams led by young scientists worked on alternative oil/fat innovations with mentors and received training on how to communicate their ideas to different audiences. 


The two winning teams were from the American University of Cairo and the University of Rwanda who won USD 10,000 and USD 5,000 respectively.




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