Nigeria’s Agritech ThriveAgric to provide 125,000 smallholder farmers with access to financial inclusion services

Nigeria’s agritech startup ThriveAgric has launched a new project to empower 125,000 smallholder farmers with financial inclusion access. Know as AYuTe (Agriculture, Youth and Technology, the project will be rolled out in partnership with global nonprofit organisation, Heifer International.

Over the next twelve months, ThriveAgric and its technical partners will facilitate the opening of bank accounts for the farmers across 8 northern states including Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Bauchi, giving them access to debit cards and other various financial services. The Project will be in fulfilment of winning the 2022 edition of the annual Agriculture, Youth and Technology (AYuTe) Africa Challenge, an initiative of Heifer International. 

In addition to employing over 200 young people to execute this project, ThriveAgric will also be providing 1,000 Point of Sale (POS) devices to selected Nigerian youths to boost and provide additional income to their families. 

According to the EFInA Access to Financial Services Survey 2020, only 51% of Nigerian adults use formal financial services with women being continuously more excluded than men. The report particularly highlights that large gaps in financial access remain for some of Nigeria’s most financially excluded groups with adults in Northern Nigeria significantly more financially excluded than those in the South of Nigeria. Of this group, rural adults are even more excluded than those in urban areas and this translates to very limited access to funding or funding options. ThriveAgric will therefore be approaching this project with a gender lens to ensure that at least 40% of the targeted beneficiaries in the 8 northern states of Nigeria, including smallholder farmers, POS operators and project employees are women.

Speaking on the company’s vision behind the AYuTe Project, Ayodeji Arikawe, Co-Founder at ThriveAgric, said: “At ThriveAgric, our driving force has always been to empower smallholder farmers for a dignified livelihood. By connecting smallholder farmers to the formal financial economy, we are positioning them for better access to finance, credit, digital services and introducing them to the formal economy which has numerous other benefits in the long run. We are excited about this initiative we’re undertaking with Heifer International through the AYuTe Africa Challenge, and for the long term impact of this strategic partnership with VISA towards the creation of job opportunities, financial and social inclusion. Our unwavering commitment to positively impact smallholder farmers and their immediate communities across Africa will become even more evident through this project, as we power towards our goal of developing the largest network of profitable farmers in Africa.”

Last year, ThriveAgric emerged as the West African winners of the annual AYuTe Africa Challenge, receiving a $1m grant prize as reward. Organised by Heifer International, the Agriculture Youth Technology (AYuTe) Challenge was set up to support young entrepreneurs working to scale food security on the continent by developing and deploying affordable tech solutions to impact smallholder farmers. In addition to the cash grants, Heifer International also deploys a team of expert advisers and accomplished business veterans to support AYuTe Africa Champions as they translate this funding into business expansion strategies.

According to the Country Director of Heifer International, Rufus Idris, “Inadequate access to financial services is a key barrier limiting smallholder farmers from improving farming practices, adopting innovation and increasing their production outputs. We are excited about this opportunity to not only invest in ThriveAgric’s solutions but to scale up an agritech innovation that confronts financial inclusion challenges facing smallholder farmers in Nigeria”.

Access to funding remains one of the biggest challenges confronting smallholder farmers in Africa. According to WillAgri, only 10% of farmers have access to credit in rural areas across Sub-Saharan Africa. By facilitating account opening, distribution of bank cards and setting up POS operators in the rural northern communities, ThriveAgric will be increasing access to formal financial services through digital tools thereby driving financial inclusion, a key promoter of access to finance and markets for more smallholder farmers.  Key partnerships with companies like Visa to reach the most financially excluded groups, a lot of whom are smallholder farmers, demonstrates how ThriveAgric will be leveraging strategic partnerships to attain the company’s ambition of providing $500 million in credit to 10 million smallholder farmers across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya by 2027.

Commenting on the innovative move, Ayodeji Alabi, Fintech Lead at Visa Inc. West Africa said, “We wish ThriveAgric well with this initiative to onboard over 125,000 farmers on the Financial Inclusion drive in Nigeria. With ThriveAgric as winners of the Visa Everywhere Initiative in 2022, they have our full support in this to facilitate payment solutions towards ensuring that underserved communities are banked.”

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