“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
– Marie Curie
In 2015, the 193 countries that make up the United Nations committed to changing the reality of human existence and propel us towards a more positive and impactful direction. Through the United Nations Development Plan (UNDP), a list of goals, known as “Sustainable Development Goals”, have been determined through which gaps in global social development and related concerns can be closed. According to UNDP communications, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals, refer to a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” Stemming from the erstwhile fruitful Millennium Development Goals, these new set of goal also touch on issues regarding “climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.” Essentially, it is a walk by all for all.
To achieve these goals, it is important to identify relevant areas of impact per region. Without doubt, the concept of food, from production to consumption, is a global concern. In the case of local African communities, agriculture is particularly a far-reaching tool through which lasting impact can be achieved. As indicated by a Growsel-led research, about one-third of the world’s 7.3 billion people are made up of smallholder farmers and their families who produce nearly 70 percent of all food consumed worldwide on 60 percent of the planet’s arable land. Be that as it may, these people who produce 70% of the world’s food are nevertheless still caught in a quagmire of starvation and extreme poverty, with less than 2% of local farmers having access to any sort of institutional finance. There are an estimated 500million smallholder farming households globally, (approximately 2 billion people) living on less than $2 a day. From the same central inefficiency that cripples the potentials of agriculture, a myriad of problems ranging from infrastructural inadequacies and social inequality can be traced. Therefore, it is clear that each one must take the SDGs personal for the benefit of all across the globe, through one means or another.
How Growsel is Helping
This is why Growsel, a nonprofit agricultural technology organization is working through mobile and local field partners to alleviate poverty by connecting under-financed smallholder farmers to lenders. Growsel’s operations are 100% focused on developing countries around the world, starting with West Africa. The Growsel team works with field partners across the African region (in Nigeria, it works with Zowasel) to help increase output per hectare per farmer by at least 250%. Essentially, the goal is to scale production to a minimum of 10 hectares per farmer within 3 years. By so doing, revenue/profitability per farmer and revenue/profitability per hectare will increase by over 200%. Consequently, the gap between earnings & standards of living of rural farming populations and urban dwellers will be gradually closed.
The Growsel crowd funding platform is specifically designed to serve underserved Base of the Pyramid (BoP) smallholder farmers who, hitherto, have been deprived of such opportunities. Inspired by the SDG commitment to foster collaborations and partnerships as a way of ensuring the success of the preset Global Goals, Growsel engages local Field Partners and Trustees across communities to screen and verify smallholder farmers for placement on the website for subsequent crowd funding. Because it is not enough to raise funds and leave farmers at the mercy of their unmanned environment, Growsel facilitates local, regional and international collaborations to help achieve the set goals. Growsel partners with Zowasel to deploy a digital marketplace that gives farmers direct access to off takers, In addition, Zowasel oversees a set of international operations, including the procurement of enhanced inputs, propagation, as well as implementation of agricultural best practices and professional farm management. With such intricate planning, Growsel is protecting the interest of lenders by further ensuring the means of loan payback.
In all this, Growsel’s selection processes have been intentionally skewed to favour women in a bid to help balance gender inequality issues that have been prevalent in most rural societies. From end to end, the system is process-driven and free for all. However, certain aspects are tailored to support these local women towards gaining financial independence. By extension, Growsel’s activities offer a ray of hope to the alarming number of out-of-school children, most of who belong to smallholder farming families. With as little as $20 farm-loans, these marginalized categories of people can be empowered to breakout of the man-made rut that has held them stuck for a long time.