150 women agribusiness entrepreneurs in Oyo State have been provided with game-changing training on modern agribusiness management and supported to adopt modern agro-processing practices and enhance their revenue-generating capacity through the production of high-quality, value-added agricultural products.

The three-week training under the Support to Women Entrepreneurship in the Agri-food sector in Nigeria (SWEAN) initiative, a component of OYSADA’s Regional Agribusiness Development Programme, commenced in July for the first cohort of 150 beneficiaries at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan.

SWEAN, a French government-supported initiative, aims to provide women agribusiness entrepreneurs in processing industries in Oyo and Kaduna States with data-driven coaching, technological transfers, access to finance and linkages to local and international premium markets.

In Oyo State, SWEAN is facilitated by the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA) and implemented by the IITA.

The first batch of trainees received expert coaching in good agricultural practices (GAP), procedures for fortification, certification and standardisation of value-added products, branding and packaging, safety and hygiene, resource management as well as skills needed for operating machines.

Beneficiaries were also supported to develop linkages with local and international market networks. They also learned how to market their product internationally and how to make their businesses more attractive to outside investment and support.

Seventy-five of the first batch of trainees were drawn from OYSADA’s Youth Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness Programme (YEAP) 

Alhaja Adeleke Adeyinka, a SWEAN beneficiary and agribusiness entrepreneur, learned the twin benefits of modern processing methods on business bottom lines and worker health.

“The Oyo state government is trying to support the women because they know women go very far in business,” Adeyinka said. “We have learnt a lot: there are different ways of processing, we are going to move away from the old system of processing to the modern one. The health benefits are going to help us.” 

Another SWEAN participant Mrs Gloria Adegoke also learned how to optimise her business for international markets. 

“The programme has been so impacting we’ve learnt how to improve our products, how to get government certification such that our products can go beyond our local communities,” Mrs Adegoke said.

“For example, [the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control] has been here, [the Small & Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria] has been here, exports agencies have been here, [the Standards Organisation of Nigeria] has been here. We now know the procedures of how to get certification such that our products can go beyond the shores contrary to what we used to know.”

Throughout the lifespan of the project, SWEAN will continue to promote capacity building activities that allow women agribusiness entrepreneurs to increase technology uptake and maximise their ability to earn from existing agri-food systems.

By its end in August 2022, SWEAN anticipates that about 1,300 women in Oyo State will benefit from the initiative.