‘Learn, work, succeed’ was the mantra behind the 12-day training and mentoring programme launched recently by SPARK Yemen and our local partner, For All Foundation.

During the programme, 200 aspiring Yemeni agricultural startups were trained in how to write the perfect business plan, create a project proposal, finance their projects and expand their networks. Experts, mentors and lead partners encouraged entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in selected agricultural sectors: coffee, honey, date and strawberries.

Participants were motivated, despite the huge barriers that face them due to the on-going conflict in Yemen. “I want to have a distinctive coffee business. So I’m here to learn how to write my business plan and execute it in Yemen’s coffee market”, Said Alaá, who at the age of 26 already holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture.

Agriculture plays a major role in the national economy of Yemen. It’s development not only secures financial independence for youth, but could also improve food security for around 90,000 households. Therefore, training young people to start their own agri-businesses is a step towards this goal.

“Today I’ve learnt new things” – Said Eman, Yemeni entrepreneur

The trainings took place in phases and included unique opportunities for one-to-one discussion with experts in their sector. On the 12th final day, 30 small businesses won the opportunity to be incubated at Noah’s Ark, an incubation centre started by SPARK and Hemmat Shabab Foundation to support businesses in their fragile early stages. A further 15 businesses operated by internally displaced people were granted financial support by government officials and NGOs.

One of these small businesses owners was Said Eman, who studied pharmacy and plans to combine her knowledge of chemistry with agriculture. “I want to produce my own beauty range from agricultural products such as strawberries. It will be a unique business.” She added: “Today I’ve learnt new things about marketing and selling. I learnt how to complete feasibility studies, how to identify opportunities and face challenges.”

On top of the comprehensive business trainings, the programme also connected startups to local micro-finance institutions. Access to finance can be one of the most difficult aspects of establishing a business. “The programme was a unique opportunity for youth to create their businesses from scratch with the help of experts”, said Sabah Badri, Executive Director of For All Foundation, at the closing ceremony. “Their business ideas will contribute to the agricultural community in Yemen.”