Expanding Access to Services for Agricultural Enterprises
In Nigeria, most rural families work in small-scale agriculture, either as a primary source of revenue or as a source of supple¬mental income, and they must face challenges of having limited access to credit, information, markets, and social services. With support from USAID, PfD’s “Expanded Access to Services for Agricultural Enterprise” (EASE) project has enabled local community-based organizations to provide loans, business skills training and targeted technical assistance to 11,000 farmers and processors of agricultural products. For this project, PfD provides guidance local partner organiza¬tions in how to strengthen targeted value chains by training these organizations on how to conduct workshops for value chain stakeholders. PfD builds capacity of its local partners so that they are able to provide business develop¬ment training and financial management services to farmers and other small business entrepreneurs.
PfD has a 12-year history working in Nigeria. Over this time, PfD has cultivated a strong network of partners. Implementing projects across this network—increasing the number and quality of services local organizations can offer through training-of-trainer programs and sustained engagement—both allows PfD to quickly scale-up its interventions and increases the sustainability of projects like EASE. Responding to the early success of EASE, in 2011, PfD won a $600,000 extension grant to expand services into Sokoto State in order to extend financial inclusion, business development skills (BDS), and agricultural skills to an additional 2,000 beneficiaries over 18 months (by the end of the program, EASE reached 2,413 individuals in Sokoto).
14 of the 15 local partner organizations PfD collaborated with in EASE’s implementation focus on the advancement of women and children’s well-being. PfD helped these organizations expand their services into microfinance, increasing the opportunities for financial inclusion for women in the conflict-affected, culturally conservative states in which EASE operated. Overall, 77% of EASE’s total 16,539 beneficiaries of BDS training were women. PfD’s technical trainings were so popular that more than twice the number of people expected sought tailored agricultural sector technical assistance; ultimately, 1,217 beneficiaries received training in crop production, diversification, processing, and storage, as well as training in organic farming and the careful use of agro-inputs, depending on their needs. In terms of microfinance success, 7,137 borrowers leveraged $1,319,438 worth of microfinance loan capital over the life of the project, as successful repayment allowed PfD’s partners to continuously relend their original funds.