Feed the Future Nigeria Agricultural Extension & Advisory Services (AEAS, 2020-2025). Connexus is working with Winrock International and USAID to implement the Feed the Future Nigeria AEAS Activity, a five-year project that leverages the power of Nigerian entrepreneurship to facilitate learning, replication, and scale around alternative models of extension to increase access and adoption of agricultural technologies for at least two million smallholder producers in Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Kebbi, and Niger states. Using “Lean Farm” principles and tools to develop a deep understanding of existing production systems to identify the most impactful practices (MIPs) to improve efficiency and increase return on investment for farmers, AEAS leverages micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as change agents around on-farm opportunities in the cowpea, maize, soybean, rice, and aquaculture value chains. Connexus works with MSMEs (including farmers) to connect them with financial institutions (FIs) and design, pilot, and scale suitable financial products, including bundled financing packages for smallholder farmers, especially women and youth.

In Year 1, Connexus interviewed 10 FIs and 25 private sector firms and integrated the findings into the Mapping to Markets and Lean Analysis. Connexus also designed and delivered a training of trainers on Creative Approaches to Smallholder Finance to more than 40 representatives from partner institutions and is now working with them to design and implement action plans. In Year 2, Connexus trained 12 partner FIs on Agricultural Finance Product Design, Adaptation, and Delivery mechanisms and is now working with them to integrate financial models that will support MIPs and upgrading in the target value chains. We conducted 13 focus groups with community-based informal FIs to extract and document additional models to serve underserved smallholder farmers. We also trained 199 participants on business development services (BDS) to improve financial literacy and management. To date, the Activity has forged relationships with 117 MSMEs committed to integrating and commercializing the MIPs into their service delivery models. Applying a gender and social inclusion (GESI) lens, Connexus is linking its partner FIs to SHFs with an emphasis on women and youth, with an estimated pipeline of 10.84B Naira ($26.2M). Over the life of the project, Connexus will help facilitate $60M in agriculture-related financing linked with improved agricultural extension and advisory services.

Client: Winrock International; 2020 – 2025