LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited was recently awarded the sum of a N592,204,667 co-investment grant by the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) to launch “Project Sparrow,” an initiative developed to reduce the risk of local and global investments in selected agribusiness and agritech companies in Nigeria to help them achieve higher productivity, better returns, inclusive growth and access to ﬁnance.
Through assistance provided to these companies, Project Sparrow will achieve its overall goal of supporting the improvement of Nigerian smallholder farmers’ productivity and livelihoods in the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future States and select value chains. As this program is code named, Project Sparrow is expected to positively impact over 50 direct beneﬁciaries and a total of 25,000 smallholder farmers while creating 4,000 jobs.
In celebration of the project and its expected outcomes, LoftyInc hosted a kick-off launch for Project Sparrow on Wednesday, February 16, at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Center in Abuja. The event brought together LoftyInc and Trade Hub staff, leaders of agribusinesses in Nigeria, and staff representing financial institutions and other businesses that will support Project Sparrow, including the Development Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority, the First City Monument Bank Plc, and Afrilabs.
Headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited is an innovation development company that supports start-up teams, innovation enterprises and social impact projects in Africa. The organization is on a mission to contribute to the enhancement of lives by creatively investing in ideas and entrepreneurs, while positively changing the broader society.
“The vision of the company has been to tackle the most prominent problem of the 21st century in Africa—joblessness—and to this vision, the company has remained true as exempliﬁed by the recently launched Project Sparrow,” said Engr Michael Oluwagbemi, Executive Partner of LoftyInc.
Access to funding has always posed a major challenge to innovative agric-focused start-ups and MSMEs in the country. The need to provide a solution to this challenge led to LoftyInc’s foray into innovation acceleration, angel investment, and venture capital, as well as microﬁnancing that provides various kinds of funding to novel business solutions covering various sectors of the economy
Building on this momentum, Project Sparrow will provide incremental ﬁnancing of $6.5 million U.S. dollars to not less than 20 MSMEs (half of which will be women or youth-led) from an initially selected 50 MSMEs by making them better prepared for external funding through its investment readiness program.
Some of the activities lined up for the execution of Project Sparrow include blended capacity building development and training by immersion for ﬁeld execution of the promoters of the shortlisted beneﬁciaries, an accelerated investment readiness program, and engagement opportunities with angel investors and funders.
Others include market action and execution that will emphasize leveraging smallholder farmers and their cooperatives and scaling up eﬀorts in tandem with development ﬁnancing to achieve high impact. There is also expected to be opportunities during the program to share lessons learnt for continuous improvement process.
At the project launch, Robin Wheeler, the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, said he looked forward to seeing the long-term impact the Trade Hub’s partnership with LotfyInc and backing of Project Sparrow will have in Nigeria.
“The Trade Hub and LotfyInc share the common goal of supporting small and medium-sized businesses to be drivers of economic growth in Nigeria,” Wheeler said. “Project Sparrow represents an innovative and strategic way to accomplish this goal through not only giving high-potential companies much-needed access to finance, but the technical assistance and training needed to succeed as well. We are proud to support this project.”