International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
It is July 2017, and Dr. Nteranya Sanginga, the director general of the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), is making progress toward two of his primary strategic objectives for the nonprofit research Institute: 1) to scale the impact and reach of some of the IITA's most commercially viable products and technologies by working with the private sector, and 2) to address Nigeria's massive youth unemployment problem by engaging young people in agribusiness. To achieve his first goal, Sanginga in 2013 established a business incubation platform (BIP), which was tasked with establishing pilot production facilities to illustrate that a select number of IITA products could be profitably manufactured and sold to an existing market. Sanginga hoped that the BIP would attract interest from private sector companies compelled by the business case for taking a particular technology to scale. To achieve his second goal, Sanginga had founded a youth "agripreneurs" program, which would train young university graduates on improved agricultural practices, food processing, and strategies for starting an agribusiness. Since its establishment in 2012, the program had enrolled four cohorts of young people in Ibadan (a total of 70 people), and expanded to four other states in Nigeria and five additional African countries. While both programs were making progress, challenges remained. Sanginga had originally hoped that the agripreneurs program would launch dozens of small businesses, but as of mid-2017, it had produced just four independent start-ups. Most of the program's agripreneurs in Ibadan (53 of the 70) remained affiliated with the IITA. Poor access to commercial loans, which carried interest rates up to 30%, was the primary issue preventing them from starting businesses. The BIP, too, faced challenges. Chief among them was a severe cash flow constraint that prevented Schreurs from properly forecasting and investing resources to maximize the BIP's impact. As traffic inched along, Sanginga contemplated how he could steer both the BIP and the agripreneurs program toward long-term success in his remaining four years at the IITA's helm.