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Big impact for smallholders in Northern Nigeria - First disbursement of EUR 2.5 million investment in Babban Gona


Smallholders in Nigeria: big chances thanks to the “Great Farm” 

EU funded facility EDFI AgriFI announces first disbursement of EUR 2.5 million investment in Babban Gona, Northern Nigeria – supporting entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector

[Brussels, 9th April 2021] The impact created by the Nigerian company Babban Gona is huge: 82.000 jobs were created, 69 % for young farmers and young agricultural entrepreneurs – and together we will further increase these numbers. EDFI AgriFI, the EU-funded Agriculture Financing Initiative, announces the first disbursement of its EUR 5 million commitment to Babban Gona, an agricultural enterprise co-owned by its 38.000 members. Babban Gona, meaning “Great Farm” in Hausa, one of Nigeria’s languages, offers a holistic range of services, such as credit, education and training in sustainable farming practices, provision of high quality affordable agricultural inputs, provision of storage facilities as well as marketing and distribution support. 

AgriFI’s investment is expected to catalyse an additional EUR 15 million of credit, resulting in a total of EUR 20 million to  create  sustainable employment in agriculture for one million individuals by 2025.

Nigerian smallholder farmers remain poor due to several factors, like land fragmentation, broken value chains, poor access to finance, inadequate cash flow, insufficient extension services or access to technology, poor quality inputs, and limited access to markets – altogether preventing their farms to grow more and better. Established in 2012, Babban Gona aims at breaking this cycle of poverty. In 2020, its innovative business model has provided some 38,000 smallholder farmers with tailored technologies and facilities enabling them to optimise their yields, productivity, and income. Meanwhile, by 2016 already, Babban Gona, had become the largest maize producer in Nigeria, and had 32,556 Ha under cultivation in 2020.  Its strong advantage is providing young people with promising opportunities in agriculture to avoid unemployment and rural depopulation.

According to Ambassador Ketil Karlsen of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, such initiatives are invaluable for the EU development partnership with Nigeria. “By channeling our support through the country’s private sector, we leverage the limited donor funding to build together with the Nigerian entrepreneurs, pooling our resources, using their know-how and local knowledge, to create employment, especially for the country’s youth and women, and stimulate much-needed economic growth”, he said.

Saminu, Talatu and Muhammed – stories of success

Saminu is one of them. He grew up in a beautiful village in Northern Nigeria but took the first chance to leave to the city. He did not want to be a farmer like his parents, who, with all their hard work, ended up with almost “babu”: “nothing”. Soon he had to realise though that city life was not easy either with its high unemployment and risks of marginalisation. Today, Saminu is back in his village and has joined Babba Gona as a young farmer. The organisation provides him with access to finance, so that he does not have to sell his harvest at a low price before due time. He also benefits from the training and marketing services.

Talatu Ibrahim, who increased the harvest on her 0,8 Ha land from 15 to 45 bags or Muhammed Mustapha, who now earns six times more from his 1 Ha farm than before, are but two more of many other success stories. “We are extremely delighted to partner with EDFI-AgriFI on this journey towards creating catalytic impact to enhance the livelihoods of smallholders in Africa as well as those of hundreds of thousands of local community members.  Through our joint mission with EDFI-AgriFI, we create employment, facilitate food security, and improve rural education and nutrition levels” says Kola Masha, Managing Director.

By supporting this scale-up, AgriFI will contribute to the recruitment of 12,000 additional farmers, the cultivation of 10,000 additional ha, and the production of some 40,000 MT of maize per year.  “We are very proud to back Babban Gona’s social business. Not only does the company support subsistence to commercial transition in rural Nigeria, it also seeks to leverage agribusiness to tackle insecurity in the country, rooted in entrenched levels of youth unemployment”, explains Dimitry Van Raemdonck, EDFI AgriFI Manager.

Given the perceived trade-off between societal and financial returns, social entrepreneurs often struggle to raise capital to expand their activities. EU support such as that channeled through AgriFI can therefore play a crucial role in catalysing extra funding and supporting the company’s ambitions.


Media Contacts:

Babban Gona:


  • Mathilde Poncelet –


About EDFI AgriFI

EDFI AgriFI, the Agriculture Financing Initiative, is an impact investment facility funded by the EU, with a mandate to unlock, accelerate and leverage investments with a value chain approach in developing countries, focusing on smallholder’s inclusiveness and/or agri-business medium, small and micro enterprises (MSME). AgriFI is managed by EDFI Management Company, a subsidiary of EDFI, the European Development Finance Institutions as a sub-delegate of FMO. Learn more:

About Babban Gona

Babban Gona (“Great Farm” in Hausa) is an award-winning, high impact, financially sustainable, and highly scalable social enterprise, part-owned by smallholder farmer partners.  Babban Gona contributes to creating a secure future for Nigeria’s youth by transforming agriculture into a job creation engine that can help break the cycles of poverty and unemployment.  Babban Gona provides training, financial credit, agricultural inputs, and harvesting and marketing support to its member farmers to help them increase their productivity and profitability.  Babban Gona’s goal is to help 1 million individuals in agriculture increase their incomes, and, ultimately, move themselves out of poverty by 2025.

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