In May this year, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to start the Young Africa Works-IITA Project, an innovative approach to agribusiness training and start-up for Nigeria’s young people.
This project was developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators, and entrepreneurs as part of the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next 10 years.
In Nigeria, Young Africa Works aims to see 10 million young people, most of them women, in dignified work opportunities by 2030. In line with this strategy, Young Africa Works IITA-project is designed to advance agribusiness opportunities to over 40,000 Nigerian young women and men with a special focus on skills development, decent employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities to secure work in agri-food value chains for the next five years.
“Agriculture is among the most viable potential source of employment for young people in Africa,” said Chidinma Lawanson, Country Head for Nigeria, Mastercard Foundation. “We are excited to see how our Young Africa Works partnership with IITA will make the agricultural sector more attractive to young people, particularly women by providing skills training in the agriculture value chain for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.”
To kick off project activities, IITA has launched a call for application to young women and men between the age of 18 and 35 years living in Lagos, Kano, and Kaduna. This training focuses on agribusiness development that will provide young people an opportunity to grow their businesses through coaching and mentoring and learn modern farming and value addition techniques. Young people will also be exposed to agriculture product marketing skills, market linkages, and career orientation through job placements and internship opportunities.
These skills can bridge the gap in establishing viable agribusiness enterprises between youth and potential employers in the agricultural sector. It gives young women—70 percent of all participants—a special opportunity to enhance their participation and adopt entrepreneurship. In highlighting women’s participation, the training and the project seek to create productive partnerships between young men and women and apply a gender-based approach to address some of the challenges faced by young women in the agribusiness sector in Nigeria.
Participants will acquire business and soft skills that will facilitate their integration into the professional field and this year’s training will cover the following value chains: maize, soybean, rice, horticulture, orange fleshed sweet potato, groundnut, aquaculture, and poultry.
“There will be no development in Nigeria without the youth. The best way to end poverty is to create opportunities, and this is what this project is all about. By creating career opportunities and youth-led enterprises, we are planting a seed of change for the next generation. It is in this line that the Young Africa Works-IITA project was developed by the youth, for the youth, and with the youth,” said Aline Mugisho, Executive Manager, Young Africa Works-IITA project.