• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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Canada, MEDA move to support 294 Nigerian businesss

FG registers 2.5m SMEs to formalise sector

The Canadian government, through its international relations and global affairs body are collaborating with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) and the Bauchi state government to support 294 small-scale businesses and establish 590 saving groups across seven LGAs in the state.

MEDA’s main project was called Women’s Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurship or WAY. This was a five-year program funded with $15 million from the Canadian government and $1.1 million from MEDA and the Bauchi state government.

The project, aspiring to enhance business performance and the overall environment for women and youth-led businesses, ran for seven years officially concluding in December 2023.

Lydia John Shehu, director general of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), praised MEDA as “the best development partner that has impacted immensely to the socioeconomic development in the life of people of the state.”

MEDA – Mennonite Economic Development Associates – is an international economic development organization that fights poverty by developing agri-food business solutions, with a focus on women and youth in rural communities in the Global South.

The WAY initiative provided support to small businesses in the state and encouraged locals to become entrepreneurs by providing over 9,000 agro-processing technologies.

The project aimed at increasing contributions by entrepreneurs and small-scale businesses, run by women and youth, to support economic growth.

This included empowering women and youth in communities across Bauchi’s local governments to break out of the poverty circle and create wealth for themselves by promoting inter-community trade in value-chain goods including rice, beans, soybeans, groundnuts, and oils.

The seven LGA beneficiaries were Bauchi, Toro, Warji, Ganjuwa, Jama’are, Dass and Katagum of Bauchi State where the impact of deforestation and strain on the natural environment caused by a growing population are being felt.

In three years, the 590 saving groups accounted for over ₦700 million that were reinvested in their enterprises.

Emeraid Capital Management Consults, a key facilitating partner of the project, presented MEDA’s impact across the 7 LGAs including the mobilization of over ₦1 billion in savings by rural women and youth-led businesses from 443 communities.

The program supported 17,861 individuals and businesses and created and sustained 79 jobs.

To ensure the sustainability of businesses, beneficiaries of the scheme were involved in financial literacy training to prepare them for their entrepreneurship journey. This included practical lessons on savings, investment and basic economic practices.

“Sometimes my business stopped because of how I manage my fund,” said Salamatu Chiroma Agric entrepreneur from Durr village of Dass LGA.

“I didn’t have the basic principles of business, no idea of how to account for my business, I sold and spent money when the need arose, no savings just spending both the capital and profit”

Chiroma was one of the beneficiaries of the WAY project who were trained and introduced to the Village Savings Loans Scheme.

“I joined VSLA group created by MEDA where I started receiving pieces of training on business management and development”

As part of its commitment to climate sustainability, the MEDA WAY project partnered with a local clean technology firm, Roshan Renewables, to incentivize and encourage the adoption of clean cookstoves, which are 60% more fuel-efficient than traditional stoves and have already been adopted by over 20,000 women in the state.

The initiative also played an active role in creating the Climate Collaboration strategy, which paved the way for establishing the Bauchi State Environmental Stakeholders Committee in 2018.

In 2021, the Committee, which represents a diverse group of community stakeholders from government agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector, supported the planting of 9,500 trees in the 7 Local Government Areas where MEDA works as a response to the growing threat of drought and desertification.

MEDA also partnered with the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) in training and equipping more than 100 youth in seedling production.

Mrs. Grace Fosen, the Country Project Manager of MEDA, commended the state government for creating an enabling environment that has allowed the project to be carried out over the past seven years, appealing for the sustenance of the project’s outcomes to continue the development and improvement of the people of the state as a whole.