Adesina: Our Partnership with Nigerian Govt  to Empower Small Businesses, Farmers

The Co-founder and CEO of Sabi, Ademola Adesina, in this interview explains the new partnership between his company, the $1 billion GMV B2B e-commerce platform, and Nigerian agricultural companies – Nectar Fresh Limited and Meadow Foods. The partnership was established with the support of the Nigerian government to address supply chain and development challenges in Nigeria’s agricultural sector. Adesina notes that by empowering small farmers and providing them with necessary resources and market access, Sabi is fostering economic growth and community development in Oyo State. Bayo Akinloye provides the excerpts.

Despite the security challenges in Nigeria, Sabi is investing in an agricultural partnership project with the government. What’s driving this partnership?

At Sabi, we believe in the potential of our work to empower a continent of small businesses and farmers, many of whom are women. Our successes have been a result of ‘packaging’ our marketplace offering and augmenting it for the benefit of serving the broader African community. Sabi remains committed to the Oyo State project due to its transformative potential for local communities and agriculture in Oyo State, aiming to contribute positively to economic growth, sustainability, and community development and empowerment. Africa faces many challenges related to supply chains, including infrastructure, regulatory issues, cultural and language barriers, and limited access to resources. As a result, we need Africa’s informal sector and unique market knowledge and commodities more than ever. Sabi offers innovative solutions that can address many of these challenges and pave the way for a more connected, resilient, and sustainable Nigeria. By pursuing this partnership, we are bringing the best of our experience and knowledge to bear, with the hope that it will make a difference to people and communities. We believe that as demand for Africa’s resources grows, the world needs an open, predictable, sustainable, and secure solution delivering the digital commercial experience. At Sabi, we blend that global reach with local insights to transform supply chains — transparently, ethically, and sustainably.

Why Nigeria and why the choice of Oyo state?

Sabi is headquartered in Nigeria, with operations in South Africa and commodities purchasers around the world. Our platform of nearly 300,000 merchants grew in only three years following the ongoing global supply chain issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world moved from ‘just-in-time’ to ‘just-in-case’ sourcing models, Sabi was ideally positioned to help address the worldwide supply chain gaps. Oyo State was an obvious solution due to its agricultural potential and the opportunity to address ongoing supply chain challenges. Oyo State’s Opara Forest Reserve offers fertile ground for sustainable agricultural development. The Nigeria Ministry of Environment and Water recently approved our license to operate there with our partners, Nectar Fresh and Meadow Foods. Sabi’s journey began as a B2B e-commerce marketplace that revolutionized how Nigeria’s fast-moving consumer distributors achieve their goals. This partnership will ultimately support the informal sector of Oyo State, lending them the capacity building, investment, infrastructure, and operational help to create a streamlined agricultural production capability in the region. This is very important because in Nigeria, as much as 60 per cent of the economy is informal, and Sabi bridges the gap between the informal economy and their potential purchasers, facilitating meaningful connections that can contribute to the world’s food supply.

 Tell us about the new partnership between Sabi and Nigerian agricultural companies Nectar Fresh Limited and Meadow Foods?

Sabi has partnered Nectar Fresh Limited and Meadow Foods to launch the Oyo State Aggregation Project. This initiative aims to establish a reliable supply chain for premium crops in Oyo State by developing small farming communities and providing the technology and infrastructure they require to thrive. The project has many benefits, including the creation of jobs and investment that will improve food supply outcomes for Nigeria and its international trade partners. Sabi is proud to lead the consortium that will bring economic development and agricultural supply solutions to Oyo state.

Are there other organisations Sabi has worked with or works with in Nigeria?

The Ministry of Environment and Water was instrumental in providing the licensing agreement. We work with many partners, from aggregators to merchants, wholesalers, last-mile retailers, logistics partners and financiers. We have begun working with investors, government, and international organizations to raise awareness about the potential of the informal economy to bring solutions to significant global challenges, such as food insecurity, climate change and sustainability, and women’s empowerment. We represented Sabi at the World Economic Forum earlier this year to begin building more awareness about this topic on the global stage.

 Sabi is a $1 billion GMV B2B e-commerce platform, what is it bringing to this partnership?

Sabi brings its expertise in e-commerce and technology to enhance the project’s efficiency. This includes financial, operational, and infrastructural support to ensure sustainable agricultural practices and market access for small farmers. We also lend our customer-centricity and ability to align incentives for our partners across the value chain.

In the world of B2B e-commerce, many actors have attempted to organize the informal market, streamline the value chain, and extract value. At Sabi, our approach was different in that we never aimed to duplicate existing models but rather to understand the intrinsic needs of our market. This is why we spend significant time analyzing the needs of retailers, wholesalers, distributors and finished and input product sectors. Our interventions are strategic and targeted, where we can make a real difference and achieve scale. Because of this, we are a trusted ally to our users, merchants, and partners – we stand behind them, ensuring they receive the support and resources necessary to thrive.

So, why did Sabi decide to partner Nectar Fresh and Meadow Foods?

Sabi partnered Nectar Fresh and Meadow Foods to leverage their local knowledge, community ties, and industry experience in developing a robust agricultural supply chain in Oyo State. Meadow Foods brings extensive knowledge and experience in agricultural production and processing. Their expertise in maintaining high quality and efficiency standards is important for developing a robust and sustainable Oyo State project operation. Nectar Fresh is renowned for its innovative approaches to community development, and their focus on sustainable practices aligns well with Sabi’s mission to promote ethical and responsible supply chains.

What’s the duration of this project/partnership?

The project will take place over two years, with the option for renewal. Infrastructural investments and job creation will be ongoing over the next year, and the project partners are committed to the success of the initiative over the long term.

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