NICOP: Using innovation to drive value chain competitiveness
In a move to drive competitiveness in tomato, chilli, ginger, leather, and garment production in Africa’s biggest economy, the German BMZ commissioned the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP) in 2018 to accelerate value addition across the selected value chains.
The four-year project which is co-funded by the European Union under the West African Competitive envelope, has worked to enhance the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in selected value chains and promote trade and exports through a three-pronged approach of value chain development, access to finance and investment, and policy reform.
The project, implemented by the GIZ Pro-Poor Growth and Promotion of Employment in Nigeria Programme (SEDIN) has leveraged innovation and inclusivity to improve the country’s ginger, tomato, chilli, leather, and garment value chain to deliver structural transformation while addressing market linkage failures.
Ana Vinambres, head of the project, while speaking on the project overview, said that NICOP is designed to support key value chains in Nigeria to promote structural transformation, overcome coordination and linkage failures, and improve access to regional and international markets while taking social and environmental concerns into account.
She said NICOP has assisted over 29,000 MSMEs to take advantage of opportunities to add value and migrate to new and higher-level tasks along selected value chains.
According to her, 79 percent of the MSMEs supported have increased their incomes by 20 percent since the inception of the initiative.
She said this is done through a four-tier approach, which includes enhancing the competitiveness at the firms’ level, especially through work with industrial clusters, with a combination of market development and entrepreneurial training and coaching.
“NICOP focused on improving the business climate for businesses and improving the access to finance and inclusion in the financial system for entrepreneurs in the selected value chains by exploring and facilitating traditional and innovative sources of finance at the federal, state, and local levels.
According to her, the focal states of the project include Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, and Abia and there are also project activities in Kebbi State.
She added that NICOP assists value chain actors to access funds for investment, in particular concerning modernizing and upgrading production capabilities to forge strong and durable partnerships with key public and private sector stakeholders across focal states to ensure that ownership and commitment are secured, and the multiplying impacts of the programme provide the required systemic and sustainable solutions.
Also speaking, Andrew Smith, access to finance advisor of the project, said throughout the value chains, adequate and suitable access to finance and investment is being facilitated through partnerships with commercial banks, development banks, and public financing schemes, as well as other forms of innovative finance, including franchising, crowd-funding, impact investment, and public-private partnership.
He said financial solutions are customised for each financing requirement from seeds, inputs, and farming technology to storage solutions, marketing, and investment in processing and packaging facilities
“For each value chain, additional opportunities are considered such as the fostering of agricultural based initiatives through investment and the improvement of processing facilities to achieve international quality standards.”
Emma Odundo, team lead of the technical interventions NICOP, said that some of the yields recorded had been achieved because of the varieties that had been promoted.
“Some of them are climate resilient and this has worked with the farmers. We have also adopted a form of business models, including contract farming and offtake agreements to be able to facilitate relationships between off-takers and smallholder farmers.”