Beykam Diaw, with millet harvest, Toubatoul, Senegal, 2017
The Bayer Foundation today launched its new EUR 20 million Social Innovation ecosystem fund by awarding EUR 3 million to four pioneering social innovators – myAgro, MercyCorps, Path and Living Goods. The fund aims to scale up technology and entrepreneurial solutions that empower African smallholder farmers to lift themselves out of poverty.
Bayer’s four awardees will provide over 1 million people in African farmer households with access to entrepreneurial solutions that increase their crop yields and access to health services. Today’s investment fuels Bayer’s objective to improve the lives of 100 million people – smallholder farmers and their family members – by 2030.
“With our funding, we aim to provide health and agricultural expertise and services to smallholder farmer communities via local organizations”, said Monika Lessl, Executive Director of the Bayer Foundation, speaking at Bayer’s first Social Innovation Day, which convened social entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporations, funders, government representatives and academia in Berlin to build partnerships (more information at www.bayersocialinnovation.com). Lessl added: “The support will enable smallholder farmers to further develop their entrepreneurial ideas, create jobs and increase their income. This can only be achieved in a systems’ approach, which is why we are building an inclusive ecosystem of cross-sector partnerships.”
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 trainings, for 250,000 children in farming households. MercyCorps will deploy a revolutionary 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 program to fight malaria in the Tambacounda region in Senegal. This initiative will reach 125,000 people directly and 700,000 via TV spots, as part of its effort to eliminate malaria in these farming communities.
Liam Condon, Member of the Board of Management of Bayer AG and President of the Crop Science Division, said: “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:
Today’s announcement builds on existing social innovation partnerships. Bayer’s collaboration with myAgro has boosted the income and productivity of 46,000 smallholder farmers. Bayer has also collaborated with One Acre Fund to advance two program innovations for smallholder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda: an improved poultry delivery model, which has already 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 program, improving their services for over 600,000 smallholder farmers this year.