Lagos, Nigeria — The Entrepreneur Support Program (ESP) is designed to support grassroots MSMEs across the Nigerian agriculture and food landscapes to rebuild and strengthen their businesses.
Leveraging ICT, data and innovation, Nourishing Africa has developed a four-step program to directly back these MSMEs with training, financing, and support to ensure the scaling of resilient businesses that can withstand future shocks.
Grassroots and small businesses in Nigeria continue to struggle for survival due to a range of challenges which the Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. The MSMEs' lack of visibility often impairs their access to market, training, capacity building, and funding opportunities. To truly realize the potential of the food and agriculture sector in Nigeria, which is driven by these underserved MSMEs, Nourishing Africa, the Mastercard Foundation, and USADF have joined forces to train and provide technical support and catalytic financing to the entrepreneurs.
"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", said Mastercard Foundation Country Head - Nigeria, Chidinma Lawanson
"USADF is constantly looking at new strategies of support to African enterprises, and we are pleased to partner with Nourishing Africa to support agripreneurs in Nigeria in re-tooling their business strategies as they navigate the uncharted COVID-19 environment and reposition for growth," said USADF President and CEO, C.D. Glin. "Nourishing Africa's ESP fits within the USADF approach of providing grant capital, capacity building, and convening opportunities, all of which are fundamental ingredients for enterprise growth."
The Entrepreneur Support Program (ESP) targets micro and small-scale enterprises run by young people between the ages of 20 and 40 engaged in critical food and cash crops and livestock value chains from the provision of inputs and primary production to processing, logistics, storage, and distribution in 11 states in Nigeria: Abia Anambra, Delta, Edo, FCT, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo states.
Through a rigorous application process that attracted more than 30,500 entries, 2,000 agripreneurs have been selected to participate in ESP, which formally kickstarted in February 2021.
ESP has also partnered with faith-based associations, community, and women's organizations to identify grassroots and women-led agribusinesses across Nigeria. These organizations include Whispering Hope Africa Initiative, AgriCayalyst Innovation, African Women in Leadership Organization, Young Farmers Association of Nigeria, Senator Adeyemo Women Empowerment Cooperative, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and Ogun State Ministry of Agriculture.
Through ESP's various components, including a business resilience diagnostic tool and an agribusiness entrepreneur development seminar, Nourishing Africa will provide ongoing support to all participants and small grants of up to N3,500,000 to 125 of the 2,000 participants. The Program will also refer suitable participants that did not receive grants to partner financial institutions to help them access additional resources to scale their operations.
"The Entrepreneur Support Program will impact the lives of Nigerian youths across the country, especially women, and create further opportunities for them to contribute to achieving our goal of national food security. Our aim is to empower and equip these agripreneurs with the tools and resources needed to create impact in the agri-food industry, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa," said Nourishing Africa Program Lead, Ify Umunna.
The Nourishing Africa Entrepreneur Support Program will build capacities of the agripreneurs, improve their businesses' profitability and sustainability, and help them build resilience. Through this, we anticipate the growth of talented young agripreneurs who will be equipped to lead the industry for years to come. In addition, the inclusion of technology and 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.
About Nourishing Africa
www.nourishingafrica.com - a home for 1 million entrepreneurs transforming the agriculture landscape – is a digital membership and knowledge platform focused on supporting agri-food entrepreneurs to scale.
Nourishing Africa's mission is to "attract, empower, equip, connect and celebrate over 1 Million dynamic and innovative young entrepreneurs who will drive the profitable and sustainable growth of the African agriculture and food landscapes." As such, this hub serves as a platform for these stakeholders to accelerate their work, connect with each other, and celebrate their successes on the continent. The portal includes information about data, funding, African food and chefs, career opportunities, and other resources to develop one's career in the agri/food industry.
About Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program aims to address immediate needs facing communities in Africa and support the economic recovery by building the resilience of communities and institutions. Mastercard Foundation seeks to support SMEs as they re-tool their business models by partnering with institutions to co-develop projects that provide large-scale access to credit for MSMEs, to build the MSMEs' resilience and enable them to reignite the Nigerian economy.
About the U.S. African Development Foundation
USADF is the U.S. Government's independent African MSME enterprise development agency. The agency invests in African grassroots and small- and medium-sized businesses; promotes local economic development; and creates pathways to prosperity for underserved communities. Utilizing a community-led development approach, USADF provides seed capital and local project management assistance to early-stage African enterprises and entrepreneurs, addressing Africa's biggest challenges around food insecurity, insufficient energy access, and unemployment, particularly among women and youth.
Nonye Mpho Omotola
Country Lead, Program Communications, Nigeria
Andrew Echono, FCA
Country Program Coordinator
U.S. African Development Foundation