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The Bayer Foundation has launched US$22.07mn Social Innovation ecosystem fund by awarding US$3.31mn to four pioneering social innovators such as myAgro, MercyCorps, Path and Living Goods

bayer africa 1The initiative is set to enable smallholder farmers to develop and drive the development of local markets. (Image source: Bayer)

The fund aims to scale up the technology and entrepreneurial solutions that lift African smallholder farmers out of poverty.

Bayer’s four awardees will provide more than one million people in African farmer households with access to entrepreneurial solutions that increase their crop yields and access to health services. The investment is in line with Bayer’s objective to improve the lives of 100 million smallholder farmers and their family members by 2030.

The four awardees will use the funding to scale innovative nutrition and health programs across Senegal, Mali and Uganda. myAgro will train 200,000 smallholder farmers in Mali and Senegal to increase their yields and provide health interventions including de-worming and nutrition training for 250,000 children in farming households.

MercyCorps will deploy a data platform based on weather, GPS and crop type to connect 200,000 smallholder farmers with farming input providers. Living Goods will train 350 community health workers in Uganda to reach 280,000 families, strengthening the country’s health system. Path will deploy a programme to fight malaria in the Tambacounda region in Senegal. This initiative is set to reach 125,000 people directly and 700,000 via TV spots, as part of its effort to eliminate malaria in these farming communities.

“With our funding, we aim to provide health and agricultural expertise and services to smallholder farmer communities via local organisations,” said Monika Lessl, executive director of the Bayer Foundation. Lessl said this while speaking at Bayer’s first Social Innovation Day, which convened social entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporations, funders, government representatives and academia in Berlin to build partnerships.

Lessl added, “The support will enable smallholder farmers to further develop their entrepreneurial ideas, create jobs and increase their income. This can be achieved in a systems’ approach, which is why we are building an inclusive ecosystem of cross-sector partnerships.”

Liam Condon, member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division, commented, “These social entrepreneurs have developed innovative and inclusive business models that will enable smallholder farmers, who currently have little purchasing power, to develop and to drive the development of local markets. This is a huge step towards lifting their communities out of poverty.”

Progress so far

Bayer’s collaboration with myAgro has boosted the income and productivity of 46,000 smallholder farmers. Bayer has collaborated with One Acre Fund to advance two programme innovations for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda. These include an improved poultry delivery model, which has delivered hybrid chickens to an estimated 33,000 farmers through partnerships with local brooders and the expansion of digital technologies within One Acre Fund's programme, improving their services for more than 600,000 smallholder farmers this year.