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Program: Developing Agribusiness Case Studies in Kenya

GBSN, United States International University (USIU) and Michigan State University worked together to improve the management and leadership capacity of small scale agribusiness entrepreneurs through training to improve the quality and increase the productivity of the agricultural sector and thereby contribute to food security in Kenya.

Funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project's goal was to design and deliver a certificate program for smallholder agribusiness entrepreneurs by developing relevant training materials in the form of course modules and case studies that focus on specific agriculture, business, finance, organizational effectiveness and entrepreneurial skills.


USIU trained sixty agribusiness entrepreneurs drawn from all over Kenya, 50% of whom are women, over a period of 8 months within the project period of 18 months. The project had an on-going monitoring and evaluation component that focused on both the program and the graduates. The program provided wrap-around services to alumni through mentoring, counseling, and networking. Training was through the Center of Excellence in Entrepreneurship Development (CEED) at USIU.

GBSN worked with USIU faculty to develop 12 new locally relevant case studies for the new course. GBSN’s role was to provide quality assurance of the case studies by overseeing a mentoring program for each of the case writers. A workshop in Nairobi, Kenya kicked off the case-writing, bringing together mentors and casewriters for a focused start to the process.

Twelve local agribusiness firms were identified by USIU to serve as the case protagonists, ranging from dairy farmers to food processors to fertilizers providers. Many of the protagonists joined the faculty at the workshop and had the opportunity to sit through a case discussion led by USIU's Professor Charles Mayaka. This allowed them to experience the power of the case study as a teaching tool, and helped them understand the importance of providing information to the case writing faculty in order to result in successful case studies.

Following the workshop and visit in Nairobi, GBSN faculty mentors have been working with USIU faculty via email and phone calls to provide mentoring support and quality assurance to the case writing process. The twelve case studies developed were used in the twelve modules of the new program launched in early 2012. They will also be made available to other business schools interested in teaching in the field of agribusiness and will be added to the collective resources of GBSN in order to promote the use of locally developed materials for the developing world.


Agriculture is the single most important sector in the Kenyan economy, contributing approximately 25% of the GDP, and employing 75% of the national labor force (Republic of Kenya, 2008). Over 80% of the Kenyan population which currently stands at 38,000,000[1] live in the rural areas and derive their livelihoods, directly or indirectly from agriculture. The rural labor force (over 51%) is engaged in small-scale agriculture where women are the majority in the sector (UNDP 2008). It is therefore critical that smallholder farmers be developed from subsistence farming into a vibrant commercial sector.

Meaningful inclusion of small-scale farmers in commercial production hinges on an informed understanding of policies in the agricultural sector, market chain actors and the nature and management of risk in these markets. Building leadership and management skills of smallholder agribusiness entrepreneurs will create an enabling environment for their businesses to thrive, thereby improving their lives and livelihoods, and ultimately contribute towards the long term reduction of poverty and hunger through an empowering process.


[1] Kenya Census report September 2010

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