Babban Gona: Story, Founders, Investors & Funding Rounds
Babban Gona delivers low-cost agriculture inputs, financial services, and training to a franchise network of smallholder maize and rice farmers.
Babban Gona is working to revitalize Nigeria’s agricultural sector by serving networks of smallholder farmers. Babban Gona delivers training, credit, agricultural inputs, marketing support, and other key services to farmers’ doorsteps.
Babban Gona’s model is designed to help young people build financial resilience in their rural communities, where viable sources of long-term income are needed amid rising unemployment and political instability.
Long-term lenders are scarce amid Nigeria’s political and economic uncertainty, and there is hesitancy by traditional financial institutions to invest in agricultural endeavors.
As a result, Babban Gona required subordinated debt from patient funders to crowd in more funding at a key organizational inflection point.
The combination of Babban Gona’s services results in 100% income increases above the national average for their farmers.
Kola brings extensive public sector experience as Senior Advisor to the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture. Kola has received numerous awards including being the first leader in the history of a for-profit social enterprise to win the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.
How it Works
Training and Education
Members receive training via Babban Gona Farm University (Farm U).
Farm U is a training platform that enables smallholder farmer members to access the critical knowledge required to manage their Trust Groups efficiently and effectively, develop a commercial mindset to farming, and adopt critical agronomic best practices to improve their yields.
Members are trained on best agronomic practices, management leadership, and financial literacy.
Training also continues in-season with Member Monthly Meetings, where topics are revisited.
Access to credit is a critical factor limiting the growth and profitability of smallholder farmers.
Babban Gona adopts an innovative approach to de-risk members of the farmer groups and raises cost-effective debt to finance its members through a blended finance structure.
Through this measure, Babban Gona is helping to close the financing gap and deploy low-cost credit to those who need it the most.
Babban Gona provides members with high-quality inputs at the best available prices.
They source inputs from market-leading manufacturers, assuring our members of quality in the inputs we provide.
These quality inputs, alongside the training members, receive on the appropriate application and use of inputs, ensure that our members attain higher levels of productivity.
Harvesting & Marketing Support
Members are provided access to Babban Gona’s harvesting & marketing support services that ensure optimal storage practices, access to markets, and ultimately increased profits.
Franchises Farmer Groups
They provide tailored and cost-effective end-to-end professional training, input, credit, and marketing services to Groups.
These groups adhere to Babban Gona’s advice and benefit from its services to increase yields and profits.
Women Economic Development Initiative (WEDI)
Piloted in 2018, we launched a new structure for our flagship WEDI retailer program in 2020 with overwhelming success.
Participation in this program far exceeded our expectations and they were able to quickly scale operations to support a total of 18,500+ female entrepreneurs.
Under the new structure, the female entrepreneurs choose from a wide variety of fast-moving consumer goods to retail.
The ability to select from a wide range of products allows women to better cater to the specific demands of their local populations.
Training sessions were led by female instructors and easy-to-understand manuals were distributed to upskill the women on choosing products for retail, customer relations, business growth, sustainability, and basic business etiquette.
Additionally, to streamline the program and make training and resources easily accessible, they provided twenty six different locations where the women could attend their training sessions as well as pick up their credit packages.
Kola Masha is the current Founder and Managing Director of Babban Gona.
Before co-founding Babban Gona, Kola was a Managing Director and CEO of a subsidiary in the Notore Group, one of Nigeria’s leading agricultural conglomerates, where he led the development and execution of Notore’s commercial strategy across West and Central Africa, preparing the company to sell one million tons of fertilizer and establish a modern seed business.
In addition, he led the effort to raise $130 million in equity. Kola brings significant leadership experience in corporate finance, business development, sales and marketing, product development, and operations, across four continents with multiple global companies, including GE, Notore, and Abiomed (listed as one of the top 10 stocks of the decade by Kiplinger).
Kola Masha attended Harvard Business School.
Investors & Funding Rounds
International Fund for Agricultural Development
Babban Gona has received the first loan of US$5 million from the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
IFAD’s new investment initiative is a Private Sector Financing Programme (PSFP) to spearhead an increase in much-needed private investment in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), farmers’ organizations, and financial intermediaries servicing small-scale farmers, which are too often neglected by investors.
It will provide loans, risk management instruments (such as guarantees), and equity investments.
Steward: This is transforming agriculture by equipping human-scale regenerative farms with the capital they need to grow.
One Acre Fund: It is a non-profit social enterprise that supplies financing and training for smallholder farmers.
SunCulture: It develops and commercializes life-changing technology to solve the biggest daily challenges for the world’s smallholder farmers.
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