Articles, Blog

Babban Gona | Kola Masha | Skoll Award 2017


They came in the tens of thousands,
people looking for work, crowded into the national stadium in Abuja. The government was recruiting workers
and the turnout was simply overwhelming. Youth unemployment in Nigeria
and Sub-Saharan Africa is massive. In the past 20 years, roughly 20 million
youth entered Nigerian workforce, causing youth unemployment
to spike over 60%. And in the next 20 years, four times
that number of people are estimated to be entering
the Nigerian workforce. Just as oxygen is to fire,
so are unemployed youth to insurgencies. And if 20 million people entering
the workforce in the last 20 years triggered not one, not two,
but three insurgencies, we can only imagine
what 80 million will do. We really don’t have very much time. The core of what we’re trying to do is use the power of business and
market forces to help solve this problem. And we believe agriculture is not just Nigeria,
but the entire region’s job creation engine. But the underlying structure isn’t why
smallholder farmers are poor, is low economies of scale. Despite their hard work, they’re getting
yields that are typically about 20% of the yield of other farmers
in other developing countries. So, if you’re able to make small
scale farming more profitable, you’ll create market forces that
will draw millions of young people into the sector as entrepreneurs. How are you all? We are very fine. I am here on behalf of the company
called Babban Gona. We focus on solving this low
economy of scale challenge by helping to build thousands
of grass-root level farmer cooperatives. And supporting each and every member of that
cooperative with the services they need to be highly productive,
highly commercial sustainable farmers. And so, the services that we offer,
basically fall into four buckets. Now the three types of fertilizers we use
to assist farmers are these… Training: training on how to migrate from
subsistence to a commercial mindset and then finally training on how
to become a better farmer. How old is this corn? About 5 days to 6 days old. And then, the second service is Credit,
where we go out and we assess the size, the nutrient requirements on the farms, and so we can tailor a nutrient
package on credit, specifically to that farmer’s needs
to optimize their return on investment. And then the third is
a holistic set of inputs, from land preparation to
the highest quality seed, an individual that visits their farm
every two to four weeks, giving them advice and guidance, all the way down to harvest, where we
literally provide them the needle, the thread and the bag they
package up their products with. And then finally, we provide
them marketing services, where a farmer deposits their grains,
we collateralize that, get them a loan against the value of that, and then as their agent, we market that
product to leading buyers across the country and enable our members to dramatically increase
their price that they can get for those products. Some people abandoned their lives and joined Boko Haram, which yielded nothing for them. But when Babban Gona arrived,
they helped us become productive farmers, they helped us to grow and get ahead,
and improve our lives. Before this, I was harvesting 35 to 40 bags. Now I produce up to 500 bags.
All thanks to this program and training. Next year we expect to hit close to about
20,000 members and rapidly scale. By 2019 – 2020 we should be
well over 100,000 members. We want to replicate this 30 million
times across West Africa, draining insurgencies of that oxygen
they require to survive.

5
Comments
  • Good job Babban Gona quite an inspiring story. The youth should watch and understand what agric- entrepreneurship is about. More power to Babban Gona

  • Commendable model. However, Nigeria should be looking to replicate the export-driven industrialization that has catapulted the East Asian nations out of poverty. (And that has quickly changed nations like Bangladesh over the past 5 years.) Why? Nigeria's close to Europe and North America, so markets for its manufactured exports are easily accessible. It has a huge and young labor force near the coast, especially in the Lagos region of the southeast. And it has the raw geography to make this work–a long, flat coastline and huge cities already near that coastline. All that's required is infrastructure and a decent way for foreign direct investors to come in and set up factories. Agriculture is all well and good, but rapid urbanization is the future of young people in Nigeria, not going back to the fast-depleting soil…

  • its inspiring me to make social innovation in aggricultural sector, so wish me maybe. thanks Babban Gona

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