BusinessDay

Nourishing Africa partners MasterCard, USADF to empower 20,000 agripreneurs

Nourishing Africa in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) has launched the Entrepreneur Support Program (ESP) designed to train and provide technical support and catalytic financing to Micro, Small and Medium Scale enterprises (MSMEs) across Nigeria’s agricultural sector and food value chain.

The ESP scheme which formally commenced in February 2021 will train 20,000 young agripreneurs, selected from over 30,000 applicants across 11 states in Nigeria, which are: Abia, Anambra, Delta, Edo, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo states.

It will also provide grants of up to N3.5 million to 125 MSMEs out of the 20,000 selected. In addition the Program will provide participants with easy credit access, business resilience diagnostic tools and an agribusiness entrepreneur development seminar will be made available to all the beneficiaries.

Ify Umunna, Program Lead at Nourishing Africa said the ESP targets micro and small-scale enterprises run by young people between the ages of 20 and 40 engaged in the livestock, food and cash crops value chains, from the provision of inputs and primary production to processing, logistics, storage and distribution in order to reform and strengthen their businesses.

“Our aim is to empower and equip these agripreneurs with the tools, resources and opportunities necessary to achieving our goal of national food security and also create impact in the agri-food industry, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa.

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The Nourishing Africa Entrepreneur Support Program will build capacities of the agripreneurs, improve their businesses’ profitability and sustainability, and help them build resilience that can withstand future shocks. Through this, we anticipate the growth of talented young agripreneurs who will be equipped to lead the industry for years to come,” She explained.

C.D. Glin, USADF President and CEO, said the partnership is in line with the USADF’s goal to support African enterprises through grants, opportunities and capacity building. He added that the ESP scheme will help beneficiaries revise their business strategies and reposition for growth as they navigate the uncharted COVID-19 environment, leveraging ICT, data and innovation.

“The inclusion of technology, innovation and exposure to new trends in the sector will increase the use of smart tech and cost-effective innovation in the agriculture and food industry in Nigeria.” he said.

Chidinma Lawanson, Country Head – Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation said the lack of visibility often impairs MSMEs access to market, training, capacity building, and funding opportunities, adding that these issues needed to be addresses in order to realize the potential of the food and agriculture sector in Nigeria, which is driven by underserved MSMEs

“Agriculture plays a critical role in the Nigerian economy. In addition to providing food and raw material, agriculture also provides employment opportunities to a very large percentage of the population, including youth and women so it is important that we partner and build capacity to reduce poverty and increase skills and opportunities in the sector”, she said

ESP has also partnered with different associations, organizations and communities, like the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture, AgriCayalyst Innovation, African Women in Leadership Organization, Young Farmers Association of Nigeria, among others.

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