The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), through its Youth in Agribusiness office, is partnering with the Mastercard Foundation in Nigeria to implement the Young Africa Works strategy.
The partnership aims to enable 242,724 young Nigerian women and men to build skills and secure dignified and fulfilling work opportunities in the agrifood value chain over the next five years.
Young Africa Works, developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators, and entrepreneurs, is Mastercard Foundation’s strategy that will enable 30 million young people in Africa, to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next ten years. In Nigeria, Young Africa Works aims to see 10 million young Nigerians, the majority young women, in work opportunities by 2030.
“Agriculture is at the heart of Africa’s economic transformation. It will profoundly define the future of work. Work is all around us, especially in agriculture (production, processing, financing, packaging and marketing). We’re focusing on agriculture in Nigeria because we see these opportunities and we will work with partners like IITA to make them visible to young people,” said Chidinma Lawanson, Nigeria Country Head at Mastercard Foundation.
The IITA project focuses on building innovative and inclusive agrifood systems for young people between the ages of 15 and 35 and will support them to secure employment or self-employment through entrepreneurship across three Nigerian states, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, over the next five years.
The project will leverage and scale existing IITA youth initiatives, including the Start Them Early Program (STEP). STEP is a mechanism that improves agricultural instruction in secondary schools in a manner that better directs career paths toward modern agriculture and agribusiness. Partnerships with the Commissions of Education in each of the focus states will lead to a massive out-scaling of the STEP program.
In collaboration with the Enterprise Development Centre’s online learning platform, the digital STEP program, delivered through Young Africa Works, is expected to revolutionize agriculture teaching in public institutions of education across Nigeria. The program will also scale access to vocational education for marginalized young people.
The project will be implemented with several partners and the state governments. Youth-sensitive loan and agribusiness support programs will be developed with financial institutions that recognize the specialized needs of young people, especially young women, as agricultural borrowers. The program will aim to reduce the risks associated with young people obtaining credit for agricultural investment purposes.
“Our partners are well-positioned to provide the training, placement, and agribusiness support services required in the three target states of Nigeria. This optimal mix of partners will ensure that the project approaches reflect the special attention that the Young Africa Works strategy places on young women. The project will apply special approaches to empower young women in Northern Nigeria while considering cultural sensitivities,” said Evelyn Ohanwusi, Training Coordinator, Young Africa Works-IITA.