Resource Center for Agricultural & Rural Enterprise Development

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: July 30th, 2021

The Resource Hub for Agricultural and Rural Enterprise Development is a collaborative effort on the part of the Mastercard Foundation, from the University of Arizona, and EARTH University. Funded by the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, the Hub aims to support students and alumni by offering over 500 free, curated resources related to entrepreneurship and agribusiness, including webinars, articles, courses, and more. In both its content and quantity, this Resource Hub is the first of its kind and sets the precedent for other Hubs that Baobab will host in the future.

We interviewed Yeukai Mlambo, Director of the Mastercard Foundation Digital Initiative, to learn more about the platform and its benefits.

Portrait of Yeukai.

Who is the Resource Hub intended for?

The Baobab Platform as a whole is intended for alumni and current recipients of Mastercard Foundation grants, usually youth from ages 16 to 35, the majority of whom are Africans from agriculturally heavy communities. The Resource Hub specifically can be accessed for free by anyone who creates an account on Baobab, and who shares the Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to developing Africa through transforming young leaders and giving back. While Baobab eventually hopes to have some resources available outside the platform, for now, the Resource Hub is tailored mainly toward Mastercard alumni and affiliates, including the EARTH community, alumni, and partner networks.

How can you use the Resource Hub?

The Mastercard Foundation, Baobab, and EARTH University have partnered together to understand and define the different stages of the starting a business, and the challenges and questions an alumni might have during any step of the entrepreneurship process. The objective of the Resource Hub is to provide these new entrepreneurs with resources around creating a sustainable business that will also support their families and communities within the African agribusiness context.

As soon as you enter the Resource Hub, you will find each of the 5 stages of building a business carefully matched with related resources as well as courses offered by Baobab. You can begin drafting your business ideas in stage 1, “Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Mindset,” and in the next stage, “Developing your Big Idea,” you will learn how to make an idea feasible and how to find your target audience. In stage 3, “Thinking through Nuts and Bolts,” you will identify the location, staff members, and other needs for setting up your business. Next, in stage 4, “Putting your Big Idea into Action,” you will begin marketing and engaging with vendors, farmers, and other groups and move on to the fifth and final stage on the Resource Hub, “Scaling Up.” Users can approach the Hub in the manner that works best for them, starting with browsing the resources or with taking the Baobab courses.

Is there a place in the Resource Hub where users can share their experiences?

Once users start using the Resource Hub, Baobab can begin receiving the feedback from students that is essential to building and refining the platform. After using each component in the Hub, users can fill out a feedback survey with their suggestions so that Baobab can then address any areas of improvement. There is also a chat function within Baobab that is linked to entrepreneurship groups on the site where users can share their experiences with others as well as their own resources to further populate the Hub.

What has been Baobab’s experience working with EARTH University?

Though Baobab and EARTH University have not worked together before, Baobab understood EARTH’s values and mission, and has met with its students and learned about their ideas for sustainable agriculture initiatives. Starting work at the beginning of the pandemic, there was an initial adjustment period. But once we got the ball rolling, EARTH was very consistent and committed to getting the project done. During our regular meetings, they were very open to collaboration and feedback, and now we can see what it’s become, it’s phenomenal. Now it’s come to this really useful, user-friendly resource that has everything you can think about.

For Baobab, the next phase of the Mastercard grant involves finding ways to collaborate with partners, and EARTH has set the precedent for future partnerships. BAOBAB wants to elevate and expand the entrepreneurship and agribusiness components on their platform, not just for the benefit of the EARTH community, but also for the Mastercard Foundation community. The goal of this expansion is to convey the significance of agriculture informed by an EARTH University perspective. Baobab is excited to pursue future opportunities and collaborations with EARTH to continue supporting young future leaders and entrepreneurs.