West Africa Trade, CrossBoundary to commit $14m to back agribusiness SMEs
...half of the fund earmarked for Nigeria …expected to create 500 jobs in the region
The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub has partnered with CrossBoundary, an investment and economic development advisory firm, to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in the West African agribusiness sector with a $14 million private investment fund.
The special programme is launched to assist entities engaged in building operational and cash flow resilience among SMEs affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The financing will primarily be used to help high-potential SMEs in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso raise capital and close financial deals.
“This partnership will facilitate the flow of private capital into the agricultural sector in a way that increases sustainability and puts the sector firmly on the path to self-reliance,” Michael Clements, chief of party, West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, said in a statement.
“Equally important, the partnership and project promote the goals of Feed the Future, as it directly facilitates market linkages with the private sector through the agribusiness value chain,” Clements said.
Half of the transactions will be earmarked for Nigeria, whereas part of the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, the Trade Hub is working to introduce new technology in agriculture.
The portfolio approach taken by CrossBoundary to assist SMEs is an innovative solution to an ongoing problem.
Despite their need for easier access to capital, agribusiness SMEs are typically underserved by existing financing products and face prohibitive transaction costs.
As SMEs in the agricultural sector function as a backbone to West African countries’ economies, increasing their competitiveness is crucial. Through the efforts of the CrossBoundary–Trade Hub partnership alone, 500 jobs are expected to be created.
Ultimately, approximately 6,000 people will benefit, including through increased food production by the agribusiness SMEs supported.
“We are excited to participate in this partnership where our role as an intermediary will help unlock private capital by systematically overcoming the barriers to investing in the region,” said Jake Cusack, Managing Partner at CrossBoundary.
“Having implemented a similar model in other African regions, we expect to expand the Trade Hub’s resources beyond the projected targets, and in the process directly impact livelihoods, create opportunities, and drive economic growth,” Cusack said.
As part of the agreement, CrossBoundary will leverage Trade Hub’s $1.5 million grant to channel at least $14 million in private investment to a portfolio of agribusinesses that include smaller firms typically ineligible to receive direct funding from the Trade Hub.
The grant is awarded through the Trade Hub’s initiative to work with financial institutions and advisory firms to increase access to finance for SMEs.