The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) recently awarded LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited a N592,204,667 co-investment grant to launch “Project Sparrow,” an initiative developed to reduce the risk of local and global investments in selected agribusiness and agritech companies in Nigeria in order to help them achieve higher productivity, better returns, inclusive growth, and access to finance.
Project Sparrow will achieve its ultimate goal of helping the improvement of Nigerian smallholder farmers’ productivity and livelihoods in the Feed the Future States and select value chains by assisting these companies.
Project Sparrow, as the program is known, is intended to benefit over 50 direct beneficiaries and 25,000 smallholder farmers while also producing 4,000 jobs.
LoftyInc hosted a kick-off launch for Project Sparrow on Wednesday, February 16, at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Center in Abuja, to celebrate the project and its expected outcomes.
Staff from LoftyInc and Trade Hub, as well as representatives from financial institutions and other businesses that will support Project Sparrow, such as the Development Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority, the First City Monument Bank Plc, and AfriLabs, attended the event.
LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited is an innovation development business based in Abuja, Nigeria, that assists start-up teams, innovation enterprises, and social impact projects in Africa.
The organization is on a mission to improve people’s lives by investing in innovative ideas and businesses while also positively impacting the 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 capital has always been a big issue for the country’s innovative agribusiness start-ups and MSMEs.
LoftyInc’s push into innovation acceleration, angel investing, and venture capital, as well as microfinancing, which provides various types of funding to creative business solutions across all sectors of the economy, was motivated by the desire to give a solution to this problem.
Building on this momentum, Project Sparrow will provide $6.5 million in incremental funding to at least 20 MSMEs (half of which will be women or youth-led) from an initial pool of 50 MSMEs by improving their investment readiness through its investment readiness program.
Some of theactivities 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.
Market action and execution will focus on leveraging smallholder farmers and their cooperatives, as well as scaling up efforts in tandem with development financing to achieve high impact.
There will also be opportunities to discuss lessons learned as part of the program’s continual improvement approach.
At the project launch, Trade Hub Chief of Party Robin Wheeler expressed interest in monitoring the long-term impact of the Trade Hub’s partnership with LotfyInc and support for Project Sparrow 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.”