The Neycha Accelerator & Fund, a joint initiative by the Biovision Foundation, SHONA, and SHONA Capital supporting agroecological enterprises (AEEs) in Kenya and Uganda, has announced that applications are now open for the second cohort of the program. Launched in 2023, Neycha provides capacity building, capital, and connections to help growth-oriented AEEs scale their impact and transition food systems towards agroecology.
“Being part of the Neycha program is transformational for our business,” said Geoffrey Okoth Yoga, Founder & COO of Papoli Farmers’ Limited, a cohort 1 participant from Uganda. “The training and mentorship so far are helping us strengthen our operations and strategy. It is an eye opener to the applicability of agroecological principles and a reaffirmation that some of what we already do is agroecological, but we aim to do better.”
To qualify for cohort 2, businesses must be legally registered in Kenya or Uganda, at least 3 years old, and generating over USD 40,000 in annual revenue. Applicants are assessed for their commitment to integrating agroecological approaches.
“We have made tremendous progress with our first cohort of 20 Agroecology Entrepreneurs (AEEs) from Uganda and Kenya,” said Lucy Asiimwe, Program Manager, SHONA Group. “We were thrilled with their enthusiasm and response towards improving the practice of agroecology in their business models. We are committed to continuously provide tailored capacity and connections, coupled with access to financing through the Neycha Accelerator & Fund. Now we are eager to build on this momentum by bringing a new group of dedicated agroecological entrepreneurs into the 2nd cohort of the Neycha program.”
Fabio Leippert, Co-Lead Policy & Advocacy at Biovision, said, “We are thrilled to see Neycha performing and advancing. By embarking on a second cohort of enterprises, we hope to further fuel the momentum for a just and sustainable food system transformation through innovative entrepreneurs and businesses in Kenya and Uganda.”
Participants will gain access to expert training, coaching, and mentorship on tailored “Good Business” growth aspects while embedding agroecology principles. They will go through a deep selection process and a thorough Agroecology Assessment to be selected among the 20 AEEs. Following their selection is an intensive training and “Good Business” growth planning process during the boot camp activities, followed by 1 year of mentorship and coaching support.
Capital investment between USD 10,000 and 50,000 in affordable debt financing for AEEs is an integral part of the program. Additional to that are connections to markets, strategic partners, and alternative investors/financiers. Neycha ultimately aims to catalyse the growth of commercially viable, impact-driven agroecological enterprises across East Africa.
“Agroecological enterprises are key to transforming food systems. With Neycha, our goal is to accelerate their growth and impact by addressing key barriers like a lack of finance and business skills,” said SHONA Capital Investment Manager, Daniel Opio.
“By connecting investors, development partners, the government, and of course AEEs themselves, we can help consolidate knowledge and accelerate the transition to sustainable, equitable food systems in the region,” remarked Asiimwe.
How to Apply
Interested agroecological enterprises in Kenya and Uganda can apply through the Neycha website (www.neychaaccelerator.co) before the March, 4th, 2024 deadline.