Our target audiences are organized into five broad communities: (i) the young professionals community (young professionals in agriculture, science, technology and engineering (YPASTE); (ii) the rural communities (particularly smallholder farmers, fisherfolk and pastoralists as end-users); and (iii) the policy community (including policymakers, analysts and implementers) (iv) the business community (including business leaders and industry practitioners) and the R&D community (including researchers and research managers).
(i) The young professionals’ community includes agriculturalists, scientists, technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, engineers and researchers who are aged between 18 – 40 years. They constitute the larger percentage of the population (upto 70 % of Africa’s population is below 30 years old) and are better educated and have access to better scientific and technological tools. Yet, despite their big numbers, their potential and competencies have not been fully tapped for development. They are ill-equipped for leadership roles that await them; their attitude towards entrepreneurship and employment creation has been questioned; though often highly skilled in technical fields, their non-technical (enabling) competencies are wanting and they have limited professional and business networks.
We support these budding professionals unlock their potential by (i) providing a platform that supports continuous, interactive learning and exchange of ideas (ii) offering tailor-made training in skills and methods that enhance their capabilities for innovation (iii) providing opportunities for mentorship in business/entrepreneurship; scholarly research and leadership.
(ii) The rural communities comprise of smallholder farmers; fisherfolk; artisans, pastoralists etc. In most cases, these rural communities are marginalized and voiceless in determining the focus of R&D agenda (demand articulation) and are often detached from the science, technology and engineering knowledge produced in research centres (access). Because they are not organized, their voices are rarely heard in policy debates. As a result, they fail to harness the opportunities afforded by advances in science, technology and engineering and the policy initiatives hardly address their real needs. Our focus on these rural communities has a twin objective: (i) close the gap between decision-makers and rural communities by facilitating interactions and dialogue and (ii) strengthening local voices - empowering the communities to demand for services by ensuring they have an organized and united voice, and providing them with the necessary skills, tools that enhance their participation in policy dialogues.
(iii) The policy community comprises government departments, legislators and state leaders as well as (in some cases, political parties, interest groups and lobbyists). This community have the onerous task of designing and implementing policies from competing interests and limited resources. To support their decision-making, we provide them with evidence-based options derived through objective, in–depth (policy) research and analysis. We shall also support them by translating scientific results from peer reviewed journals and making them accessible in easy-to-read, easy-to-apply formats
(iv) The business community comprises business leaders; industry practitioners, budding entrepreneurs. Their links with the R&D establishments are often weak leading to sub-optimal tapping of inventions/R&D products from the R&D institutes. Besides, sometimes their preferred intellectual property models such as trade secrets are inconsistent with IP appropriation strategies of the R&D institutes which largely rely on patents and publications. While our research programmes inform their decision-making; we also tap into their skills, networks and experience to support the young professionals in science, innovation and entrepreneurship.
(v) The R&D community generate innovative products most of which hardly get beyond the laboratories and libraries. As a result they don’t translate into money (wealth creation) but at the same time they don’t impact the lives of those who need them the most – the rural poor. This situation leads to innovation pile-up, clogging the R&D pipelines resulting in wastage, duplication and demotivation for the researchers. We provide an outlet for these R&D products by linking them to the end-users resulting in wealth creation and meaningful impacts on human development.