USAID awards Nigerian firm N592m grant to boost agriculture

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded N592 million grant to a Nigerian firm, LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited to enhance investment in agriculture.

Mr Michael Oluwagbemi, the Executive Partner of LoftyInc, said this in a statement on Monday.

Oluwagbemi said the money was a co-investment grant by the USAID-funded West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (Trade Hub).

According to him, the grant is aimed at inaugurating “Project Sparrow”, an initiative developed to reduce the risk of local and global investments in selected agribusiness and agritech companies in Nigeria.

He said that it would help the selected companies achieve higher productivity, better returns, inclusive growth and access to finance.

“Through assistance provided to these companies, Project Sparrow will achieve its overall goal of supporting the improvement of Nigerian smallholder farmers’ productivity and livelihoods in the U.S. Government’s “Feed the Future States” and select value chains.

“Project Sparrow is expected to positively impact more than 50 direct beneficiaries and a total of 25,000 smallholder farmers while creating 4,000 jobs,’’ he said.

Oluwagbemi added that in celebration of the project and its expected outcomes, LoftyInc had hosted a kick-off inauguration for the project in Abuja.

“The event brought together all stakeholders and leaders of agribusinesses in Nigeria, and staff representing financial institutions and other businesses that will support Project Sparrow.

“They include the Development Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority, the First City Monument Bank Plc, and Afrilabs,’’ he said.

He assured that LoftyInc was an innovation development company that supports start-up teams, innovation enterprises and social impact projects in Africa.

“The organisation is on a mission to contribute to the enhancement of lives by creatively investing in ideas and entrepreneurs, while positively changing the broader society.

“Access to funding has always posed a major challenge to innovative agric-focused start-ups and MSMEs in the country.

“The need to provide a solution to this challenge led to LoftyInc’s foray into innovation acceleration, angel investment, and venture capital, as well as microfinancing that provides various kinds of funding to novel business solutions covering various sectors of the economy,’’ he said.

The executive partner also said that Project Sparrow would provide incremental financing of 6.5 million dollars to more than 20 Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), most of which would be women or youth-led.

According to him, such support will make them better prepared for external funding.

Also speaking, Robin Wheeler, the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, said he looked forward to seeing the long-term impact Project Sparrow would have in Nigeria.

“The Trade Hub and LotfyInc share the common goal of supporting small and medium-sized businesses to be drivers of economic growth in Nigeria.

“Project Sparrow represents an innovative and strategic way to accomplish this goal through not only giving high-potential companies much-needed access to finance, but the technical assistance and training needed to succeed as well. We are proud to support this project,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Trade Hub is a USAID-funded initiative.

It was designed to catalyse economic growth by collaborating with the private sector to generate new investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa. (NAN)


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