The economy in Niger remains defined largely by agriculture and the informal sector. The country’s unstable economic growth is dependent on agriculture, which is vulnerable to climactic risks, raw material price fluctuations, and the insecurity brought on by unreliable economic investments, especially in rural areas. The country remains one of the poorest in the world. Women and youth are affected most by poverty. One third of the population is affected by food insecurity.
The initiatives aim to develop the private sector, support agriculture, and develop services. This will help to establish micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that offer women and young people gainful employment and opportunities for income generation. In turn, this stimulates a sustainable dynamic of increased productivity that sets market opportunities and local economic development in motion.
Swisscontact’s inclusive and progressive approach aims to enhance value added in production, diversification of agricultural production in family farms, processing, and finally in fair and efficient product marketing.
A special focus is on the development and support of service providers offering agricultural inputs and equipment for the benefit of production and improved market access.
Conflict sensitivity in this fragile context is key throughout the project cycle, therefore the “Do not harm” principle is applied to all interventions.
Equality of opportunity and gender-specific aspects enhance the relevance, effectiveness, impact, and justice of project activities. The programme incorporates gender issues in a cross-cutting and sustainable manner, addressing inequities in the development of agricultural businesses while placing special emphasis on the active role played by women.
Productivity of agricultural family businesses constitutes the basis of local economic development, which to a large extent depends on agricultural production. In order to meet the new market challenges, agricultural MSMEs are becoming more professionalized, forming more effective farmer associations to leverage collective production and marketing.
‘Making markets work for the poor’ (M4P) is an effective approach to fight poverty. The central idea is to provide disadvantaged groups with better access to products, services, business opportunities, and jobs.
Better functioning market systems help people to participate in the market, ultimately improving their living conditions.
People find their own way out of poverty when they are offered real opportunities and choices. This approach, which keeps multiple stakeholders in mind, involves working together with local, regional, and national partners.
To facilitate access to essential and tailor-made financial products, trainings in basic finance offered to women and young people prepare them for the world of business. Additionally, new connections with microfinance institutions help target groups to access and use available financial instruments more effectively.
Information and Communications Technology (ICT): all effective digital solutions made available to beneficiaries are tested before full implementation. This is to help people adapt to the realities of the 21st century and be able to take full advantage of economic opportunities, as well as to take advantage of economies of scale and productivity gains.
The programme pursues four strategic objectives: