MEDA’s work in northern Nigeria is “the right project, in the right place at the right time,” strengthening businesses, creating jobs and fostering women’s equality, MEDA staffer Kim Pityn says.
MEDA’s chief operating officer made the comments about a recent visit to Nigeria during the organization’s annual general meeting in Indianapolis.
“I was overwhelmed with the entrepreneurial spirit of the clients. It was fabulous.”
MEDA’s main project in Nigeria is called WAY — Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Empowerment.
The effort, a five-year program funded with $15 million from the Canadian government and $1.1 million from MEDA, is in Nigeria’s northern Bauchi state. It aims to reach 16,000 clients, and 25,000 community and family members.
The WAY project has three main components:
• Improving the business capacity of small entrepreneurs and small growing businesses, particularly those run by women and youth. These firms are part of three agricultural value chains MEDA is focused on: rice, soya beans and peanuts.
• Improving the business environment in which these businesses operate by supporting networking and alliances between businesses, building capacity of support services, and increased access to financial services.
• Reducing the vulnerability of girls at risk of early marriage.
Among the clients MEDA is working with is a group called No Retreat, No Surrender, a women’s co-op of 250 women that grows and sells peanuts. The group’s constitution says that to be a member, women have to make sure their daughters finish secondary school.
Another client, Ebiku, is involved with peanut processing and packaging. MEDA is helping support the firm’s marketing campaign and expanding storage facilities in their Abuja factory. After a MEDA staffer introduced Ebiku to the women’s co-op, they have entered into a business partnership for a regular bi-weekly supply of peanuts.
A woman named Happy Amos owns a company called Roshan Global services. Her firm manufactures cook stoves and rice parboilers. After watching her grandmother cook over traditional three stone stoves, which produce considerable smoke and consume lots of wood and charcoal, she designed stoves that are 60 per cent more efficient and pay for themselves in three months.
MEDA is helping Amos to educate and support women to adopt these green technologies to reduce labor and time spent on household cooking.
“The beauty of this project is that these are sustaining changes, permanent changes in the lives of these people — women, entrepreneurs that will continue to give to their communities, to their families, to Nigeria, long after the project is finished,” Pityn said. ◆