I was in Mali recently where I met a woman, Maimouna Coulibaly, who several years ago left her job in the United States and returned to her home country to start a seed company called Faso Kaba. She quickly and confidently ramped up production, from 100 tons per year to over 1,000. She is eager to keep expanding, but she’s having a hard time finding financing.
I have heard different versions of this story over the last few months as I travelled around the continent: African farmers and agriculture businesses experiencing an initial burst of entrepreneurial success, reflecting the tremendous potential for agriculture as an economic driver, but then encountering obstacles that raise questions about how to sustain it.
The more I heard, the more I wished I could merge two important meetings taking place this week – the European Development Days in Brussels and theWorld Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town. The Brussels gathering will include a heavy focus on how development assistance can help improve food production and food security in Africa. In Cape Town, the focus is on attracting private investment to Africa’s rapidly growing economies. At the sidelines of WEF Cape Town, GrowAfrica particularly focuses on how to capitalise on the opportunities that abound in Africa’s agriculture sector.