By Chukwuemeka Francis Ezekiel
The African Development Bank has launched a multinational project to create jobs and improve livelihoods for youth in three African countries. The Creating Sustainable Youth MSMEs Through Urban Farming (SYMUF) initiative will support young farmers in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda, who are attracted to urban farming.
The bank is partnering with a consortium of incubation centres in participating countries to implement the project. They are the Africa Projects Development Centre (APDC) in Nigeria, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-Bukavu) in the DRC, and the African Agribusiness Incubation Network in Uganda. The SYMUF project has received $937,000 in grant funding from the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance, a multi-donor trust fund managed by the African Development Bank.
While in different regions of the continent, the three countries all grapple with high youth unemployment and limited economic opportunities.
SYMUF, which is under the Bank’s Empowering Novel Agri-Business Led Employment (ENABLE) Youth Program, will use business incubators and financial products to help transform start-up micro, small- and medium enterprises into bankable ventures. It will provide youths with agribusiness and technical skills, including climate-smart agriculture practices, technologies, market networks, and professional mentorship.
In a speech read for him during the launch in Abuja, the Director General of the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, Lamin Barrow, stressed the bank’s commitment to promoting entrepreneurship.
Barrow said: “The Bank is committed to creating jobs and providing incomes for African youth, who are attracted to urban agriculture but do not get jobs, capital, or credit to operate their agribusinesses. This project will address unemployed youth and those in the early start-up stage who have not gained traction due to limited skills and financial resources.” Barrow was represented by the Bank’s Country Operations Manager for Nigeria, Orison Amu.
Alex Ariho, CEO of the African Agribusiness Incubation Network in Uganda, said the SYMUF project would help young African ‘agripreneurs’ overcome start-up incubation and management challenges. “Working together with all the partners, we are committed to making the SYMUF Project one of the best projects sponsored by the African Development Bank,” he added.
IITA-Bukavu’s Project Coordinator, Noel Mulinganya, lauded the African Development Bank as “an important and tremendous partner over the years.”
Chiji Ojukwu, Managing Director of APDC, Nigeria, said: “We are grateful to the African Development Bank for believing in the consortium and giving us the opportunity to deploy our expertise in urban farming to develop young agripreneurs in these select African countries
The African Development Bank’s Coordinator for the ENABLE Youth Program, Edson Mpyisi, said: “This program is designed to empower youth at each stage of the agribusiness value chain as ‘agripreneurs’ by harnessing new skills, technologies and financing approaches.”
The bank has invested over $400 million in 15 African countries under the program, he said.
The Bank’s Division Manager for Agribusiness, Damian Ihedioha, said: “the bank believes that Africa’s emerging vibrant wave of entrepreneurship must be supported and nurtured for the continent’s prosperity.”
FAPA provides grant funding for technical assistance and capacity building to promote catalytic and innovative programs in line with the bank’s Private Sector Development Strategy. The Government of Japan and the African Development Bank are active contributors to the fund, which to date has provided over $76 million to 100 projects in over 38 countries across Africa.
Chukwuemeka Francis Ezekiel, African Development Bank Group, Nigeria Country Department | Email:firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)
Edson Mpyisi on email@example.com