HomeNewsBauchi's Billion-Naira Breakthrough: Women and Youth Spearhead Economic Revolution

Bauchi’s Billion-Naira Breakthrough: Women and Youth Spearhead Economic Revolution

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In Bauchi State, Nigeria, a transformative economic movement has been unfolding, reshaping the lives of thousands of women and youth from poverty to prosperity. This significant change is a result of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates’ (MEDA) initiative, the Women Empowerment and Youth Entrepreneurship (WAY) project, funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

Over a span of seven years, the WAY project has been a beacon of hope and transformation in Bauchi, focusing on enhancing business performances and creating a supportive environment for women and youth-led enterprises. The project’s conclusion in December 2023 marked a pivotal moment, celebrated at a local event where Mrs. Lydia John Shehu, the Director General of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), lauded MEDA’s substantial impact on the socio-economic development of Bauchi’s residents.

Emeraid Capital Management Consults, a facilitating partner of MEDA, unveiled a remarkable achievement: the mobilization of over one billion Naira in savings from businesses led by rural women and youth across 443 communities in 7 Local Government Areas (LGAs). This financial empowerment was crucial in addressing social issues like early and forced marriages, and providing access to over 9,000 agro-processing technologies.

The First Lady of Bauchi State expressed gratitude towards MEDA and GAC for their steadfast efforts. She highlighted the resilience of Bauchi’s women in overcoming economic challenges and urged continuous support for sustaining the WAY project’s impacts.

The WAY project, a five-year program with a $15 million fund from the Canadian government and an additional $1.1 million from MEDA, aimed to bolster the contributions of entrepreneurs and small-scale businesses, particularly those managed by women and youth. Targeting seven LGAs – Bauchi, Toro, Warji, Ganjuwa, Jama’are, Dass, and Katagum – the project addressed the pressing issues of deforestation and environmental strain due to population growth.

Records show that the project positively impacted 41,000 people, including 16,000 small-scale businesses, by enhancing business capacity, engagement with information, and labor-saving technology.

Personal stories of transformation abound. Binta Zubairu, an entrepreneur in Warji, transitioned from a part-time groundnut processor to a successful POS agent and business owner. Her venture, “BZ Processing Ventures,” now thrives, with monthly profits ranging between N70,000 to N80,000, significantly contributing to her family’s needs.

Amina Aminu Adams, from Azare Tsakuwa, turned her soybean business around with the skills and knowledge gained from MEDA, experiencing significant growth and financial independence.

Hauwa Yahaya, a groundnut oil entrepreneur from Azare, overcame her reliance on her husband’s income and transformed her business with MEDA’s assistance. Similarly, Salamatu Chiroma from Dass LGA, leveraged her training to improve her farming and business skills, joining a Village Savings Loans Scheme and becoming a banking agent.

MEDA’s environmental initiatives included partnering with Roshan Renewables to promote the adoption of clean cookstoves, establishing the Bauchi State Environmental Stakeholders Forum, and collaborating with the National Agency for Great Green Wall (NAGGW) to train youth in seedling production. These efforts contributed to a greener, more sustainable Bauchi.

Furthermore, the WAY project led to the formation of the Bauchi State Agro-Input Association, enhancing access to farm inputs and regulating their use. MEDA also collaborated with the Development Exchange Centre, a microfinance institution, to facilitate the acquisition of clean technology by women and youth in the state.

The project’s success in establishing 590 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and supporting 294 small-scale businesses across the seven LGAs, with collective savings of N700 million, is a testament to its far-reaching impact.

In addition to financial empowerment, MEDA established Empowerment Learning Centres and implemented the Gender Action Learning System in all seven LGAs, addressing family-related issues and promoting gender equality.

As the project concludes, Mrs. Grace Fosen, the Country Project Manager for MEDA, commended the Bauchi State government for providing an enabling environment for the project and appealed for the continued support and sustainability of its outcomes for the overall development of the state’s people. The WAY project, indeed, stands as a monumental achievement in fostering economic growth and empowering communities in Bauchi State.

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