The 2SCALE program thrives on the inclusive agribusiness approach through the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) by connecting businesses and improving supply networks. This model has been developed and replicated in more than 10 African countries. The formation of the inclusive agribusiness club was done with the aim of expanding the use of the 2SCALE model, materials, resources, and practices which can be beneficial to the educational sector in many countries. The idea behind forming the inclusive agribusiness club is to link up with African universities and specialized learning centers to disseminate lessons learnt and key insights. The inclusive agribusiness club was also created to bring together a network of key stakeholders in the agribusiness space to foster inclusivity and drive actions in the agribusiness space.
The maiden event was held at Fraser Suites Abuja on the 18th of May 2023 with 60 participants. The club was created through a partnership between IAMN (Inclusive Agribusiness Management of Nigeria) and 2SCALE to foster the adoption of inclusive agribusiness practices in Nigeria.
IAMN is Nigeria’s premier agribusiness professional body for agricultural practitioners involved in value chain activities. They have chartered operations along various regions in the country to enhance agribusiness practitioners' capacity. IAMN also works in various capacities by bridging the knowledge gap in the agribusiness industry by building sustainability and productivity across various value chains in the country.
The inclusive agribusiness club was formed with the following objectives:
• Set an inclusive agribusiness club in Nigeria and organize quarterly or semi-annual meetings to promote learning and networking. This will be led by the IAMN (Institute of Agribusiness Management in Nigeria) in accordance with similar programs and the institute's mission, with support from 2SCALE.
• Provide resource material for cross-learning by learning institutions and centers in Nigeria. This ensures the integration of insights and best practices in the curriculums or courses across various learning institutions.
• Provide an environment for other developmental programs and organizations supporting, implementing, or driving inclusive agribusiness projects to share their experience and learn from each other’s experiences.
An opportunity to brainstorm and have an in-depth look at Inclusive AgribusinessThe opening remark was given by the 2SCALE program director Ms. Marina Diboma. According to Marina,
The 2SCALE program is designed differently from other agribusiness programs. The 2SCALE program does not create dependency rather, the program ensures that the actors who we work with can contribute and build resilience with best practices to implement and complete the work which has been agreed upon.
The 2SCALE approach is aimed at attracting and employing the youth and engaging and empowering women by ensuring that they are not excluded from the program activities. The goal is to drive and support inclusion in the agribusiness practice along various value chains.
The event had three sessions which were an opportunity for brainstorming and understanding the peculiarities of inclusive agribusiness from the various stakeholders present.
Session 1- Inclusive Agribusiness: a pathway to sustainable and equitable agricultural development
The first session was headed by Maxwell Olitsa, the 2SCALE country team lead for Nigeria and Egypt. According to Maxwell, in sub–Saharan Africa, smallholder farmers take the lead in production, yet there have been three major factors that limit them from scaling up to medium-scale or large-scale farmers. They are faced with food insecurity, high transaction costs in terms of doing business (buying and selling of inputs as individuals instead of in groups or members of cooperatives), and asymmetry in the distribution of revenue in agricultural value chains.
According to Maxwell,
The 2SCALE approach has been made possible through strong collaborations with business champions (MSMEs and SMEs), strengthening the agribusiness cluster approach by building networks between local farmers and their network of actors across value chains, creating access to local markets, providing BoP products, among others. The 2SCALE approach also focuses on brokering linkages and ensuring that transactions are well coordinated and efficient. This is to ensure that all actors see the value on being part of specific value chains.
Session 2 - Financial inclusion in Agribusiness: Making grass root actors bankable.
The second session was led by Dr. Joshua Zira, the head of Agriculture (North) Strategy, Partnership, and solid mineral, at Sterling bank. Lack of formal education, limited access to information, and lack of bankable assets are some of the challenges that hinder smallholder farmers from accessing credit from financial institutions.
Smallholder farmers make up the bulk of the people who make a significant contribution in agriculture and ensuring they are financially capable to scale up is one of the major challenges financial institutions like Sterling bank are faced with.
He also explained on the approaches Sterling Bank employs to ensure that get access to finance.
’One of such programs is the SWAY – AGFIN (Sterling women and youths in Agric). Sterling bank and Mastercard foundation set out covid-19 rapid response fund to ease access to affordable finance to all players in the agric space. Sterling bank has also introduced SABEX. A digital commodity market platform and warehouse receipt financing platform built on block chain. The platform is designed to facilitate the buying and selling of agro commodities and also support warehouse receipt financing. Owners of commodities on the platform (farmers) can pledge their warehouse receipt as collateral to obtain instant loans if they do not wish to trade such commodities at the moment. Another way Sterling bank is ensuring grassroot actors are bankable is through the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP). The Anchor Borrowers Programme is an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to create employment, stimulate the local production of raw materials, increase output and ensure sustainable value-added productivity.
Explained Dr. Joshua.
Sterling Bank also launched Farmer’s Radio in 2018 with the aim of reaching grass root actors. Currently, the farmer’s radio is broadcast across the 36 states of the country in Hausa, pidgin, and Yoruba with over 5 million listeners.
Finally, the Agric Summit Africa is a networking event organized by Sterling Bank. Through this summit, actors in the agribusiness space have been able to meet and create business connections that have helped them improve their sales, productivity, and output.