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.

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 livelihoods for 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.”

About Babban Gona

Rising youth unemployment in West Africa increases violence which destabilizes regional economies and threatens to accelerate a migration problem that would dwarf the current refugee crisis.

Located in Nigeria in the heart of West Africa, Babban Gona uses a unique technology platform to make farming more profitable to create millions of youth jobs, interrupting the root causes of violence, stimulating strong economic growth, and alleviating the migration of the unemployed.

Babban Gona is currently the largest maize-producing entity in West Africa, where for the last 10 years Babban Gona has consistently enabled their smallholder members to increase their yields and attain net incomes of more than double the national average, while maintaining repayment rates on their loans of over 99%.

Babban Gona is currently growing very rapidly.  In 2020, Babban Gona doubled in size, despite the challenges of COVID, and served nearly 40,000 smallholders to farm 80,000 acres, an area of land equivalent to more than 5 Manhattan’s.

Babban Gona has made climate-smart agriculture a core of its business; its efforts are centered around climate change mitigation initiatives and building farmers’ resilience to climate change related shocks. 

Through its Women Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), Babban Gona goes a step further to support rural women in establishing businesses and overcoming existing social and cultural constraints with respect to access to education and training, financing, and inputs.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org

About Young Africa Works

Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people, particularly young women, across Africa to access dignified work. Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the job market by 2030. With the right skills, these young people will contribute to Africa’s global competitiveness and improve their lives and those of their communities. The Mastercard Foundation will implement Young Africa Works in 10 African countries in collaboration with governments, the private sector, entrepreneurs, educators, and young people. The first phase of countries identified by the Mastercard Foundation are Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Nigeria.


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