Feed the Future Rural Resilience Activity, a United States Agency for International Development, USAID, on Wednesday, disclosed that 600,000 smallholder farmers will have digital inclusion despite the current challenges affecting the economy and small businesses of the country.
While speaking during the ‘Tech Enabled Business Model Roundtable’ convened by the Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, the Senior Programme Advisor for Financial Services, Mark Akpan, explained that the roundtable basically targets smallholder farmers and MSMEs who are currently removed from accessing digitally enabled products.
In his words: “This gathering basically was an initiative of the Feed the Future Nigerian Rural Resilience Activity, which is a USAID initiative designed to promote economic recovery and growth in conflict affected communities in poor states of Northeast Nigeria.
“Basically, the aim of this programme today is to bring in key market actors in technology sector, financial sector, agric sector and business development sector to have a conversation around how technology can be used to improve service delivery, especially to people who are in last mile communities in an era when most economies are going digital.
“We want to see how we can be able to support businesses to innovate technologies that can enable Nigerian citizens in order to be able to access services with ease and efficiency.
“We want to target rural communities, and we want to target MSMEs and smallholder farmers who are currently excluded from accessing digitally enabled products and services.”
He further revealed other necessary details and strategic plans that were discussed to effect these solutions.
“So, the conversation in this conference today is built around developing effective models that can engineer and protect competitive efficiency in marketplaces.
“We hope that with this meeting today all the market actors that are around, with all the issues that are discussed, will be able to find lasting, innovative solutions that can solve some of the challenges that businesses are facing, as well as places like North East Nigeria and other areas where people are disenfranchised or marginalized.
“Under the rural residence activity, we are targeting about 600,000 Farmers in northeast Nigeria, and we have about four states in northeast Nigeria,” Akpan said.
While also buttressing the programme which is to run for four years, Akpan said they are bringing on industry players to develop applications that can enable even the uneducated to access business opportunities.
“The Rural Residence Activity has really done a lot in providing both digital literacy, financial literacy and also business development services that is really building the capacity of the youth and the partners that we are working with within these locations.
“This project is targeted to last for four years. We are in our third year like I told you hopefully by next year we should be wrapping up.
“We have been able to reach about 560,000 participants on this programme with different interventions that are basically designed in order to develop capacity, provide access to impute, provide access to finance, provide access to market, provide access to capacity building facilities that can enable people to become resilient and economically viable,” he noted.
Meanwhile, in a keynote address titled ‘The MSME Landscape in Nigeria: Challenges and Opportunities for tech-driven Services’ delivered the Director General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Dr Wale Fasanya, pointed out that in the North East geopolitical zone, die to insurgency activities most farmers left their farms including MSMEs operators, and climate change and outbreak of Coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic compounded their woes.