The Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (YISA) in its bid to design a framework for funding of innovative agribusiness start-ups has received support of Winrock Foundation International under United State Agency for International Development (USAID) Sponsored Farmer to Farmer programme in Nigeria.  In the synergy, Farmer to Farmer and YISA collaborated to bring in a specialist expat consultant from America; Mr. Andrew Gilboy who led the YISA national team in the development of a strategic framework of international standard for the new fund to be launched in Nigeria.

The Innovative Fund vehicle is one of the key components of the Agripreneurship Incubation & Mentorship (AIM) programme. The AIM programme was born out of the collaboration of YISA and ADAN (Association of Deans of Faculties of Agriculture in Nigerian Universities). This framework details the strategies for sourcing of funds and prescribes the guiding principles for the funds’ selection of beneficiaries and management of the funding programme as well as appointing board members and sustainability of the funding programme.

The new fund will provide young men and women interested in agriculture the start-up capital for innovative, solution-oriented agribusinesses up to 10 million naira in grants and Loans when launched.  The businesses that will eventually be selected and funded will be businesses that provide disruptive solutions to the most important needs of the country’s agricultural sector and contribute to food security and self-sufficiency of the country. Selected businesses must also display sustainability capacity, ability to scale up over time and capacity to employ a number of youths in the short-run.

Also, part of the three week-long interactive session was institutional assessment of YISA and training of members of the YISA on institutional assessment and performance enhancement. Leading up to the design, interactions between the YISA team, the American consultant and key stakeholders provided invaluable insights for the design of the strategic plan.

Stakeholders present included representatives of Commercial Banks, other youth-focused organizations including Fresh & Young Brains Development Initiative, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) among other stakeholders operating in the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

This process is in pursuit of YISA’s vision to see young graduates of Agriculture and other young people having access to funds to transform their innovative ideas into solutions, providing disruptive services for Agricultural Value Chains says the YISA Founder, Ogirinye Innocent.

The Strategic Programme Manager of YISA, Mr. Ernest Ogezi stated, the funds from the initial stage will focus heavily on beneficiaries from the Faculties of Agriculture who has undergone the AIM programme’s Agribusiness Mindset Clinic, Incubation model farms activities and the Agribusiness Innovation Lab. Our concern is not just on facility repayment in the case of Loan (facilitated) but the success of the young entrepreneurs. We shall be focusing more on grant funding due to high interest of bank loans which does not encourage business growth from our climes especially commercial loans granted to Agriculture in Nigeria.