Since 2016, the African Development Bank has committed $1.7 million to the Project to Support the Employability and Integration of Young People in Growth Sectors (PAEIJ-SP) in Togo, which has helped create 35,000 jobs in agricultural SMEs.
When Agrokom and Agricultural Growth Junction of Togo (JCAT) launched in the Togolese capital of Lomé in 2011, they each had around a dozen employees, very few of whom were young people. Agrokom processes oilseeds (soya and palm nut) to make livestock meal and edible oils. JCAT produces and markets organic soy.
In 2016, Agrokom’s annual production capacity was only 180 tonnes of soybeans, while JCAT had capacity for 1,000 tonnes, not enough to meet the growing demand. Both companies then received support from PAEIJ-SP, which had a funding envelope of $3.4 million, half from the African Development Bank and the other 50% from Togolese microfinance institutions.
“The idea of the project was to first identify small and medium-sized agribusiness enterprises or sectors with strong growth potential, confirmed by growing markets,” explained Amouzouvi Kokou, project lead for the Bank.
“The next step was to support these enterprises’ growth strategies – by developing their capacities and providing them with funding – and to develop value chains around them, in this way creating employment opportunities for young people and women.”
Three years later, the project has proved a success. Agrokom processes 6,000 tonnes of soybeans a year, generating 3,242 direct jobs and 8,505 temporary posts in its value chain (procurement, processing and distribution). JCAT exports 10,920 tonnes of organic soy to the United States, Germany and China, creating 3,203 direct and 6,931 temporary jobs in the process.