By Chinyere Anyanwu
About 560,000 youths and women will have access to dignified and fulfilling work by 2022, through the MasterCard Foundation Young Africa Works in Nigeria in partnership with Babban Gona, an agricultural firm.
Recognising that employment is a pathway out of poverty, the partnership seeks to empower individuals in the agricultural value chain and support the acceleration of agribusinesses by using technology to provide smallholders with training and education, access to cost-effective financing, as well as harvesting and marketing support services.
These services and products encourage smallholders to overcome the challenges of supply-side fragmentation and low economies of scale. Babban Gona provides this support by franchising thousands of grassroots level farmer cooperatives, called “Trust Groups”.
According to the agricultural firm, the partnership successfully created 82,000 jobs in 2020 alone, of which 70 per cent were for youths and 33 per cent for women. It stated that over the last year, it leveraged the support of the MasterCard Foundation to grow to new record levels; with 80,000+ acres under cultivation with a recent diversification into rice farming; more than 38,000 smallholder farmer members; and more than 18,500 female entrepreneurs supported across six states of operation.
Talatu, a female entrepreneur and Trust Group leader said, “I am grateful to Babban Gona for changing my life. I look around and can see the transformation that has taken place in our home. My children are well-fed and in good schools; we have also refurbished our home and bought additional land. All I see around me is growth.”
Speaking on the importance of the partnership and the relevance of agriculture in creating opportunities for young people, Chidinma Lawanson, Country Head, MasterCard Foundation Nigeria stated that, “agriculture is among the most viable potential sources of employment for young people in Africa. We are excited to be part of the process of empowering Nigerian youths, especially women, and its overall impact within this rural community. Our partnership with Babban Gona will serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurial reorientation, job creation and sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers.”
Kola Masha, Managing Director of Babban Gona, stated that, “the organisation’s goal is simple: to be the earth’s highest impact business. We will accomplish this by simultaneously scaling the number of individuals impacted, while also ensuring a depth of impact on each individual to truly transform their lives and the lives of their family. We are fortunate to have MasterCard Foundation’s unwavering support on this journey; working together, we can coordinate actions and make much needed investments in agriculture to ensure resilience among smallholders in the post-COVID-19 era.”