Babban Gona

Babban Gona makes farming more profitable for smallholder farmers, turning at-risk youth into successful entrepreneurs.

Priority Investment Category(s)

Agriculture and Food Security



Babban Gona is an agritech social enterprise whose founders believe that the best way to stop poverty and violence from threatening Africa’s future—and triggering a mass migration crisis to Europe—is to create dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for rural youth. It aims to do this through an innovative technology platform and program that makes farming more profitable for smallholder farmers.

Babban Gona is based in Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa with more than 110 million people under the age of 18. The agriculture sector employs about 70 percent of the country’s labor force and accounts for roughly a third of its GDP, but farmers nonetheless suffer from a high poverty rate. In northern Nigeria, where Babban Gona has focused much of its work, 77.7 percent of the population lives on less than $1.90 per day. Smallholder farmers generally own very small pieces of non-contiguous land and are thus unable to benefit from economies of scale. Climate change exacerbates the problems these smallholder farmers face; at the same time, farmers with no viable means to increase their yields resort to unsustainable farming practices that contribute to the global warming threatening their livelihoods. The cycle of poverty remains unbroken and feeds the circumstances that drive mass emigration and even extremism.

Babban Gona uses its technology platform to build a scalable network that brings farmers together in small collectives called “Trust Groups.” It then gives these Trust Groups training on topics like agronomics, financial literacy, and climate change mitigation. It provides Trust Group members with access to credit, so they can invest in their farms despite the irregular cash flows associated with seasonal farming. Finally, it enables them to buy quality agricultural inputs at the best available prices and provides them with marketing support and other services.

Farmers in Babban Gona’s network report net incomes that are twice as high as the national average and a near-doubling of agricultural yield. External studies have also shown that even farmers not directly participating in the Babban Gona network benefit by learning new agricultural techniques from Trust Group farmers. As of 2021, Babban Gona was supporting more than 80,000 farmers each year and providing training to more than 100,000 women. It had expanded its presence in Nigeria and was beginning to operate in Senegal. Babban Gona is now the largest maize producing entity in West Africa and has created more than 400,000 jobs since its founding in 2012.

By investing in Babban Gona, King Philanthropies is supporting its effort to help Nigerian smallholder farmers break out of the vicious cycle of poverty driven by poor agricultural practices and low yields and made worse by climate change. Babban Gona’s efforts are expected to assist up to a million African youth find gainful employment in the agri-entrepreneurial sector by 2025. In this way, smallholder farmers in West Africa will become better able to deal with problems they have traditionally faced, build resilience to the increasing number of shocks related to climate change, and manage their farms with climate-smart methods.

Halima Markus, who lives in the Nigerian state of Kaduna, sits alongside some of the products that she sells as an entrepreneur in Babban Gona’s Women in Economic Development Initiative (WEDI).

Photo: Babban Gona

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