Mastercard Foundation, Babban Gona Partnership To Yield Employment For 560,000 Young Nigerians

Posted on May 17, 2021
Jummai Istifanus, 23 (L) and Saratu Markus,50, work at an open threshng field in Anguwan Sarki village in Kwasallo district in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna on November 15, 2016. This farm works with Babban Gona, an agricultural investment firm providing Nigeria smallholder farmers with the business knowledge, training and soil analysis they need to become the country’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

About 560,000 individuals, predominantly youth and women, will have access to dignified and fulfilling work by 2022, through the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works in Nigeria partnership with Babban Gona

Recognizing that employment is a pathway out of poverty, the partnership seeks to empower individuals in the agricultural value chain and support the acceleration of agribusinesses by using technology to provide smallholders with training and education, access to cost-effective financing, as well as harvesting and marketing support services. 

These services and products encourage smallholders to overcome the challenges of supply-side fragmentation and low economies of scale. 

Babban Gona provides this support by franchising thousands of grassroots level farmer cooperatives, called “Trust Groups”.

In 2020 alone, the partnership successfully created 82,000 jobs, of which 70% were for youth and 33% for women. 

Over the last year, Babban Gona leveraged the support of the Mastercard Foundation to grow to new record levels; with 80,000+ acres under cultivation with a recent diversification into rice farming;more than 38,000 smallholder farmer members; and more than 18,500 female entrepreneurs supported across six states of operation.

Talatu, a female entrepreneur and Trust Group Leader said, “I am grateful to Babban Gona for changing my life. I look around and can see the transformation that has taken place in our home. My children are well-fed and in good schools; we have also refurbished our home and bought additional land. All I see around me is growth.”

Speaking about the importance of the partnership and the relevance of agriculture in creating opportunities for young people, Chidinma Lawanson, Country Head, Mastercard Foundation Nigeria stated, “Agriculture is among the most viable potential sources of employment for young people in Africa. We are excited to be part of the process of empowering Nigerian youths, especially women, and its overall impact within this rural community. Our partnership with Babban Gona will serve as a catalyst for entrepreneurial reorientation, job creation, and sustainable livelihoodsfor smallholder farmers.”

Kola Masha, Managing Director of Babban Gona, stated that “The organization’s goal is simple: to be the Earth’s highest impact business. We will accomplish this by simultaneously and dramatically scaling the number of individuals impacted, while also ensuring a depth of impact on each individual to truly transform their lives and the lives of their family. We are fortunate to have Mastercard Foundation’s unwavering support on this journey; working together we can coordinate actions and make much needed investments in agriculture to ensure resilience among smallholders in the post-COVID-19 era.”

Babban Gona is a high impact, financially sustainable and highly scalable social enterprise, which is part-owned by the farmers we serve.

It franchises thousands of mini farmer cooperatives across Northern Nigeria, leveraging on innovative agricultural franchise model.

The group developed the agricultural franchise model with partners that include His Highness Muhammad Sanusi II, the former Sarkin (Emir) Kano, Nestle, IITA, DfID, USAID, Kiva, GIZ, AGRA, BMGF, Skoll, Mulago, GIF and Rockefeller Foundation amongst others.

Members of the franchise mini cooperatives produce staple crops such as corn, rice and soybeans, and have increased their net incomes to 2.8 – 3.5 times above the national average.

This dramatic increase in net income is accomplished by delivering an integrated holistic package of training, farm inputs and marketing services, on credit.

Babban Gona has been able to deliver this credit while maintaining one of the highest repayment rates in the world, currently above 99.99%, leveraging our comprehensive 8 levels of risk mitigation. 

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