Jonathan Levine 00:45 But no sooner had he landed that Australian Email Address he realized something was wrong. Kola Masha 00:49 So I come out of the airport in Port Harcourt. And I’m met by a car with two policemen with two of the largest guns I’ve ever seen. And we’re racing through traffic to get to the hotel before the curfew sets it. And, you know, it was just very apparent Australian Email Address , the rapid decline of Port Harcourt. Jonathan Levine 01:15 Gang violence and other criminal activity was tearing the city apart. A surge of poor and unemployed young men were fighting over the political spoils of Nigeria’s oil wealth. Kola Masha 01:26 And it became very clear that we Australian Email Address had a serious problem. Jonathan Levine 01:35 From the Stanford Social Innovation Review at Stanford University.
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Kola Masha’s homecoming was short-lived. In less than a Australian Email Address decade away, the peaceful Nigeria of his youth in the 1980s had given way to an epidemic of violence and crime. Over the next few years, he says he came to understand why. Kola Masha 02:07 The problem was rising insecurity, and the underlying cause was a dramatic growth in youth unemployment. Australian Email Address Jonathan Levine 02:15 For two years, he and his wife, Lola, studied the problem of youth unemployment, and they came up with a solution: They would create millions of jobs in agriculture by making farming profitable enough that young Nigerians would want to do Australian Email Address it—and in the process, transform the meager existence of subsistence farming into a desirable opportunity. Today, 86,000 smallholder farmers have signed on to their plan.
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And their for-profit social enterprise, called Babban Gona, is on Australian Email Address an audacious path to grow that number more than ten-fold. Their goal is to serve one million farmers over the next four years and raise an unprecedented half-a-billion dollars to finance them. Kola Masha 03:03 We are trying to create a system to attract the scale of capital needed to support that number of young farmers. In turn, we would then be creating an economic buffer that would halt the spread of violence and insurgencies. Jonathan Levine 03:24 If Babban Gona can make the vast landscape of Australian Email Address smallholder farming profitable, it could temper Nigeria social tensions. It could also accelerate that Green Revolution across Africa and alleviate poverty in the process. Jonathan Levine 03:42 Of all the food produced in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 80 percent comes from smallholders, Australian Email Address mainly family farms operating on less than two hectares, or about five acres.