BY ONOME AMUGE
Heifer International is committing $1 million as an investment programme for the tractor booking platform, Hello Tractor, to enable it to provide loans for tractor purchases, which could be repaid from revenues earned by leasing them to local farmers.
The programme named, “Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) Tractor Financing for Increased Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria,” was established by the global nonprofit organisation as part of efforts towards promoting innovative ways to generate agribusiness opportunities for young African entrepreneurs, giving more entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers access to tractor services at an affordable rate, and consequently improving farm productivity, employment, food security and farmers’ livelihood.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, Adesuwa Ifedi, senior vice president, Africa Programmes, Heifer International, explained that the model provides financing for entrepreneurs aiming to capitalise on the demand for tractor services on farms, but who lack traditional forms of collateral.
Ifedi noted that Heifer International aims to demonstrate the potential of agritech investments to generate jobs for the ten and twelve million young people entering the workforce every year in Africa, especially in an economy which, according to the African Development Bank, generates only three million formal jobs annually.
“It’s a way to unlock capital for youth who have strong business skills that can help transform African agriculture but are often overlooked by private equity investors,” she added.
Jehiel Oliver, founder and chief executive, Hello Tractor, said the partnership with Heifer will enable the company to extend innovative financing to people who were previously considered unbankable while increasing access to technology that has the potential to improve the incomes of millions of smallholder farmers across Africa.
Oliver further explained that the PAYG programme was developed to make tractor ownership and the reliable income the machines can bring, a reality for entrepreneurs who find it impossible to get credit through normal channels.