Webinar: The Future of Work: Remaking Rural Employment after COVID-19

Jul 6, 2020 | All, Data & Tech Acceleration, Farmer Capability & Smart Farming, Market Access, News and Events

Update: Thanks to everyone who joined us for the webinar, and a special thanks to our panelists for their participation! The following webinar content is available here:


We are excited to invite you to a joint CGAP and AgriFin Webinar, “The Future of Work: Remaking Rural Employment after COVID-19“.

DATE: Thursday, 16th July 2020

TIME: 9:00-10:30 EST / 15:00-16:30 pm CET / 16:00-17:30 EAT

LOCATION: WebEx link available upon registration


AgriFin will share insights from our recent Rural Jobs Landscape Study and will explore its implications for service providers in the post-pandemic landscape with CGAP and a panel of experts. We will discuss lessons learnt from past crises and highlight guidance for the upcoming recovery phase, looking ahead at what the future of work will look like for rural youth in Africa.

This webinar will also serve as the official launch of the Rural Jobs Landscape Study, which will be made available to all participants following the webinar.


  • Moderators
    • Jamie Anderson, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP
    • Leesa Shrader, Mercy Corps AgriFin Programs Director
  • Presenter
    • Christabell Makokha, Director of Partnerships, Ideo.org
  • Panelists
    • Mikael Hook, Director, RAFLL
    • Stewart CollisSenior Program Officer for Digital Agriculture, BMGF
    • May Hani, Policy Officer, Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment Team, FAO
    • Dr. Ben Taylor, CEO, Agora Global
    • Jenny Rouquette, CEO, TruTrade
    • Chandrakanth PSLead Sales, Middle East & Africa, CropIn
    • Nathanial Peterson, Director, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics


What does the future of work look like in a post-pandemic landscape? How can we shape the future of rural employment in a digitally-enabled ecosystem?

In Kenya, it is estimated that by 2024 the rural youth population will be at 9.6 million, of which 2.8 million will be subsistence or emergent smallholder farmers. For a large proportion of this population, finding meaningful jobs in agricultural value chains will be challenging, though a large number of opportunities exist. While youth are generally well-positioned to access these opportunities, they also face unique barriers. Little information on existing and potential future job markets in agriculture and ag-related industries in Kenya is available, with data on market sizing being virtually non-existent. 

Over the next decade, the challenge of youth unemployment will be further compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as millions of youth previously engaged in the gig economy or informal employment have lost their source of livelihoods. KEPSA estimates that 350,000 jobs in the agricultural sector will be lost in Kenya this year linked to COVID-19.  A 2019 nationally representative survey showed that nearly a third of young people in Kenya run micro-enterprises (“hustles”) to earn their income; with the disruptions in social, political, financial, and economic systems due to the pandemic, the majority have had to close their businesses. The pandemic has also disrupted agriculture and food systems, posing not only a health crisis but a food security one.

Now more than ever, we are forced to ask the question: what opportunities exist in the agriculture sector to provide meaningful opportunities for youth to earn their livelihoods while promoting food security? How do we ‘build back better’ in a post-pandemic landscape? What can we learn from past crises and how can this guide the upcoming recovery phase? How can we think forward into the future of rural employment in a digitally-enabled ecosystem?


Jamie Anderson, Senior Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP

Jamie leads CGAP’s work on rural and agricultural livelihoods. Ms. Anderson focuses on how financial services can facilitate food purchases, production, and processing, particularly for women. Previously she managed CGAP’s work across key client groups, including women, youth, and forcibly displaced persons, and demand-side research with smallholder households.

Leesa Shrader, Mercy Corps AgriFin Programs Director

Leesa Shrader is the Program Director of the AgriFin Program at Mercy Corps, which aims to expand smallholder farmer access to technology-enabled financial and information services in East Africa. Ms. Shrader joins AgriFin from CGAP, where she served as the Senior Digital Financial Services Expert for Asia. She has over 20 years global experience working in financial inclusion with leading banks, mobile network operators and institutions such as CGAP, the World Bank, GiZ, KfW and Women’s World Banking. She has significant expertise in digital financial inclusion, as well as agricultural finance, wholesale and retail microbanking, market research and product development, ratings and technical assistance. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Shrader worked to build innovative commercial banking technology platforms utilizing branchless and mobile phone channels to serve low income markets in Indonesia and the Philippines. She has worked on mobile and development deployments in 16 countries around the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia. Ms. Shrader holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and is based in Nairobi with her family, leading programming across Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.

Christabell Makokha, Director of Partnerships, Ideo.org

Christabell is a strategist and development expert with experience in designing and leading the implementation of new, sustainable business models and partnerships to drive solutions that reach underserved populations, including women, youth, and smallholder farmers. She has worked across Africa leading projects in various sectors such as Agriculture, Global Health & Life Sciences, and Financial Inclusion, using approaches such as systems thinking, customer-centric innovation, and business design.

Mikael Hook, Director, RAFLL

Mikael Hook is the Director of the Mastercard Foundation-funded Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab and is tasked with leading the Lab’s overall strategy, engaging with partners, coordinating research, and managing the Lab’s day-to-day workstream. Mikael is a development professional and entrepreneur with experience in agriculture, private sector development, rural finance, renewable energy, technology for development, and fragile states. Prior to joining the Lab, Mikael launched a successful business providing sustainable materials for the green building industry in New York, and a social enterprise providing solar solutions for humanitarian organizations in Africa. Previously, he led the design and implementation of an innovative World Bank survey to collect real-time social and economic data in South Sudan. Mikael spent three years in Afghanistan with Chemonics International supporting USAID agriculture programs, where his work focused on developing value chain analysis for agriculture products; implementing a deal-driven approach to agriculture development; and organizing trade fairs to promote Afghan exports. Mikael holds an MPA/ID from Harvard’s Kennedy School where he was awarded the Public Service Fellowship.

Stewart Collis, Senior Program Officer for Digital Agriculture, BMGF

Stewart Collis is Senior Program Officer for Digital Agriculture Solutions at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he focuses on digital farmer services, smart farming and digital agricultural ecosystems in low and middle income countries across Africa and South Asia. Mr. Collis has over 20 years’ experience in agricultural information technology and was co-founder and CTO at aWhere, a Benefit Corporation providing global ag-weather content, agricultural modeling and analytics to private and public sector partners. Previously Mr. Collis worked on climate-driven spatial crop simulation modeling and ag-data management tools at Texas A&M University and the International Center for Research in Agroforestry. Mr. Collis has a Masters of Engineering Science in Geomatic Engineering from the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

May Hani, Policy Officer, Rural Institutions, Services and Empowerment Team, FAO

May Hani is a Policy Officer in Rural Institutions and Services at FAO. She leads FAO’s work on access to rural services and markets for reducing rural poverty. May’s work focuses on policy and institutional development within pluralistic service systems to promote market orientation for small-scale family farmers, and on strengthening cooperatives and producer organizations towards economic inclusion and sustainable rural transformation. She has over 20 years of international experience working on institutions and service provision in the agricultural and rural development context. Previously, she led FAO’s regional portfolio on extension and agricultural education in the Near East region, addressing reform policies, institutional development and functional linkages in agricultural knowledge and innovation systems contributing to sustainable rural development.

Dr. Ben Taylor, CEO, Agora Global

Ben Taylor is CEO of Agora Global, a leading social enterprise delivering technical advice and training to funders and implementers on market systems development. He is an expert in systemic approaches to development. He has assisted in the development and refinement of new concepts in private sector development including the Making Markets Work for the Poor approach and systemic change. His specialisms include applying market systems development approaches to new contexts such as education, water, post-conflict states, resilience and fragility, and basic services. He has global experience in over 50 countries across six continents and specialises in sub-Saharan Africa. He has worked with a wide range of funders including DFID, USAID, SIDA, SDC, the World Bank, humanitarian focused NGOs such as GOAL and Mercy Corps, and Gatsby Africa. He currently holds academic positions on the board of several journals, guest lectureships, a Senior Research Fellowship at the University of Durham, and is a member of the Markets in Crisis Advisory Board.

Jenny Rouquette, CEO, TruTrade

Jenny is currently CEO of TruTrade, responsible for the development of a social enterprise to integrate smallholder farmers into local, regional and international supply chains.  She is a leader in food systems thinking with a wealth of experience in inclusive business, rural livelihoods and ag tech innovation. Jenny has worked in Africa, Asia and South America in both non-profit and for-profit sectors. She has held diverse roles from managing start-up business to leading research, innovation and learning in an international nonprofit organisation. She holds a BSc from Leeds University and a Masters degree from University College London.

Chandrakanth PS, Lead Sales, Middle East & Africa, CropIn

Chandrakanth PS is an accomplished business professional with an engineering background and Masters in International Business from Singapore. He has a stellar career experience in Business Strategy, International Sales, Business Development and Marketing. He has achieved solid expertise across several domains and is continually committed to seeking out growth opportunities with new businesses and adding value to the industry. He has worked with HSBC Global Banking and HDFC Bank in the past, and acquired skills in heading overall operations for new product development initiatives. In his current role at CropIn, he is responsible for heading business operations in Africa and the Middle East, and empowering these markets with solutions for Digitization, Predictability, Traceability and Sustainability. With CropIn, he is on a mission to create an ingenious union of Agriculture, Technology and Data Science — bringing in fresh perspectives and making a difference to the Agri space.  He is driven with a passion to digitize every farm and equip the agri stakeholders in his regions with the technological capabilities to enable data-driven decision making in the agri-ecosystem.

Nathanial Peterson, Director, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics

Nate is Vice President of Partnerships at Busara where he manages funder relationships, develops project ecosystems, and indulges his interest in how people perceive risk. He is especially drawn to projects involving insurance uptake, farmer and MSME digitization, and understanding farmer risk management strategies which he approaches with methods from Behavioral Decision Research and Experimental Economics.