IFAD bridges SMEs, small-scale producers financing gap through newly launched Private Sector Financing Programme

NIGERIA – The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has issued a US$5 million financing to a Nigerian social impact enterprise, Babban Gona, to support small-scale rice and maize producers in the country.

Babban Gona, with a strong background in successfully moving small-scale farmers from subsistence to a more market-orientated model, seeks to offer a comprehensive package of training, quality inputs, and marketing services to 377,000 farmers with the financing.

Babban Gona will also store and sell the harvest on behalf of its farmers when prices are higher.

They aim to create up to 65,000 jobs for women and 66,500 jobs for youth by 2025.

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The funding was offered through IFAD’s newly launched financing programme, Private Sector Financing Programme (PSFP).

PSFP is aimed to spearhead an increase in much-needed private investment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), farmers’ organizations and financial intermediaries servicing small-scale farmers, which are too often neglected by investors.

This it will do through providing loans, risk management instruments (such as guarantees), and equity investments.

By committing the US$5 million funds to Babban Gona, the PSFP aims to stimulate larger contributions from other investors and help the organization meet its target to raise US$150 million to reach millions of small producers.

“We can end poverty and hunger! But to achieve this, we urgently need to stimulate more private sector investments to rural areas and unlock the immense entrepreneurial potential of millions of rural SMEs and small producers.

“With access to capital, they can attract more investors and partners, grow their businesses and create employment opportunities – especially for young people and women,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD.

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IFAD targets to raise US$200m through PSFP

Lack of financing and access to financial services prevents rural SMEs and small-scale farmers from harnessing opportunities offered by a growing demand for more diverse and nutritious food globally.

SMEs involved in food processing, packaging, transport and marketing are essential to small-scale farmers, providing them with services, inputs, and market opportunities, which contribute to increasing their income and employment.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, financial service providers only met about 30 percent of the US$240 billion that rural households required in their demands for finance.

In addition, the lending gap to agricultural SMEs was around US$100 billion annually in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, indicated IFAD.

IFAD aims to mobilise US$200 million for the PSFP from public, private and philanthropic sources to leverage a total of US$1 billion in private investments.

This will improve the lives of up to 5 million small-scale farmers. The PSFP will focus its investments on job creation, women’s empowerment, building farmers’ resilience and accelerating climate change mitigation.

“With growing hunger and poverty and the urgent need to make our food systems more sustainable and equitable, business as usual is not an option. We need to innovate now.

“This is why IFAD is creating new instruments to catalyse increased private sector investments to rural areas where they are needed most,” said Houngbo.

IFAD to double its impact on eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030

IFAD’s investments, combined with its 40 years of experience working with rural communities, global field presence and large portfolio in agriculture, give it an advantage in attracting private investors who may be cautious about investing in agriculture and rural economies.

The PSFP is part of IFAD’s wider ambition to increase its engagement with the private sector to reach millions more rural people and double its impact on eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030.

To this end, in 2019 IFAD amended its founding agreement to enable it to invest directly in private sector entities.

Previously, IFAD only channelled investments to rural areas through grants and sovereign loans to governments. IFAD’s loan to Babban Gona is IFAD’s first loan to a private sector entity.

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