[Benin] Technoserve seeks to create economic opportunities for youth with BeniBiz project
TechnoServe has announced the launch of the BeniBiz project, which will harness the power of entrepreneurship to improve the availability of nutritious food and create economic opportunities for young people in Benin.
The project is funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Dutch Embassy in Benin and is implemented in partnership with the BoP Innovation Center (BoPInc). Over five years, BeniBiz will directly benefit 2,500 entrepreneurs.
Stronger micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises have significant potential to deliver better economic opportunities and improved nutrition in Benin. Currently, many people have difficulty accessing affordable, healthy food in their communities, resulting in high rates of malnutrition. At the same time, there is a shortage of good jobs for workers in Benin – especially for young people.
But there is an opportunity to address both of these challenges. Benin’s economy is growing at a 4-percent annual rate. Within that national economy, agriculture plays a vital role, employing nearly half of the population and contributing more than 33 percent of GDP. With the right support, entrepreneurs – especially in the food and agricultural sector – can create better economic opportunities for workers and farmers, while improving nutrition.
The BeniBiz project will use a three-pronged approach to help seize this opportunity:
Support young entrepreneurs through providing training and tailored advice to 2,000 rural youth who run micro-enterprises. Many of these young people have turned to entrepreneurship due to an absence of other economic opportunities and have not received training on management, strategic planning, or marketing. With the right skills, these young entrepreneurs can improve their micro-businesses and their livelihoods.
The program will also help 350 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as food processors and grain mills, to build the managerial skills, access to finance, and networks they need to grow. These businesses are vital to local value chains, purchasing crops and hiring workers from local communities and producing nutritious food for the local market; their growth will benefit farmers, workers, and consumers alike.
Because one of the greatest challenges in fighting malnutrition is developing a sustainable distribution channel that gets nutritious food into the hands of those who need it, BeniBiz will help 150 women become nutritional sales agents. These women will receive training on door-to-door sales, and will offer a basket of affordable and nutritious products in underserved communities.
“In countries around the globe, future growth hinges on combatting malnutrition and helping young people achieve their economic potential,” said William Warshauer, TechnoServe’s CEO. “For that reason, we are excited to work with the Dutch Government and BoPInc to address both needs in a way that will achieve long-lasting impact in Benin.”