Starting a business is a big deal. A business means committing years of your life to a single idea. For a passionate entrepreneur, the right idea can mean money, success and fame. The wrong idea will lead to failure, tears and gnashing of teeth. So, how do you choose the right business idea?
When you have a trillion-dollar opportunity like the agribusiness in Africa, it can be tempting to jump in and say, “Let’s start a farm!” But, a smart agripreneur will take a more calculated approach.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020, Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern Africa Confederation of Agricultural Unions, said, “[Agripreneurs] need to understand where the trends are going in order for them to align their ambitions in that direction. [We have to give] them this total global picture that nutrition is now the key driver, ecology is now the key driver…”
What is a “trend?”
A trend means a change in a general direction. The important thing here is change. When things change, it makes room for new and better ways of doing things. It creates gaps that can be filled with innovative products and services. When things change smart entrepreneurs see big opportunities.
One example of a current global trend is reducing single-use plastic pollution. Poisonous plastic bags have been found even in the deepest point in the ocean. It has put the entire global food chain under threat. So, around the world there is a movement to stop the use of unnecessary plastic. But, plastic is everywhere, so that means a big change in how we do things.
A company that has successfully used this trend to build a business is Avani Eco in Indonesia. Indonesia has some of the worst plastic pollution on the planet. Plastic shopping bags are a big part of the problem. Avani Eco are mass-producing bio-plastic bags that are made from cassava roots. Because the bio-plastic bags are 100% biodegradable, edible, and even dissolve in water they are much better for the environment.
Trends that build a healthier planet are a massive opportunity for agripreneurs.
How do you identify trends?
1. Do the research
Business planner and mentor, Amanda Jesnoewski also says, “Absorb yourself in your industry and continually educate yourself on the latest techniques and trends.”
Researching the industry, reading reports like the Generation Africa Landscape Study, and learning about global trends that will impact the industry is essential.
Recently the food industry has come under fire for the massive amounts of sugar on the market. Diabetes and obesity are huge global health problems. In the US it costs the government and employers hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare and lost productivity every year. Imagine how much that is globally!
Both type 2 diabetes and obesity are preventable if people have access to cheap, nutritious food. Childhood development problems, like stunted growth, are also completely preventable with the right food.
For agrifood businesses, these growing global medical issues mean there are big changes in how people buy food. And big changes mean big opportunities.
Agripreneurs who develop, grow, process and market nutritious foods will have a massive positive social impact on their community.
2. Connect with people
In a great article on identifying industry trends on inc.com, John Hall says, “Make it a point to surround yourself with smart people. Build and maintain a close group of advisers. Ask the right questions, and listen to your customers.”
Trends happen because large numbers of people begin to move in the same direction. If you are open to new ideas and listen carefully to what people around you are saying, you will see the trends emerge.
Link up with organizations like the GoGettaz community or the Africa Farmers Club. It’s a great way to find like-minded agripreneurs. Entrepreneurial hubs, mentor networks, and networking conferences are also valuable places to meet up with smart people.
3. Look in other industries
Karen Mwendera of Forbes Africa reports that this decade will be defined by the meeting of agriculture and technology. Technologies that have nothing to do with traditional agriculture are being used all over the agrifood industry.
Blockchain technology, the stuff of bitcoins, is being used for food traceability. Drones, that started out as toys and camera equipment, are now used for crop surveys and pest control. Sensors, satellites, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning will be go-to technologies to drive pin-point accuracy in hyper-precision farming.
If you are not an agripreneur you have an advantage. You might just know something that can revolutionise the agrifood industry completely. Financial apps, solar panels, computer networks and IT, all hold secrets that can change agriculture forever.
Do you know of a trend about that you can turn into a business that you are really passionate? Well, start building your business. The GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition 2020 is launching soon, and we want to hear from you.
If you’re not sure, yet, start at step 1. Read this article about agriculture mega trends in the Farm Journal, AgWeb.