Mercy Ushie and her poultry farm

YouLead: Helping Young Entrepreneurs Build Sustainable Businesses

By Opaniyan Damilola • February 2, 2018

For many start–ups, lack of technical expertise is a fundamental challenge which prevents promising businesses from reaching their full operational potential. Mercy Ushie, a resident of Bekwarra, Cross River State had one of such start–ups – as a result, her business suffered significant livestock loss. However, since her brother introduced her to the YouLead project, Mercy’s poultry farm is quickly becoming a highly successful business.

Mercy participated in the YouLead Entrepreneurship Development Training where she learnt how to transform her farm into a profit–making business. She then proceeded to undergo the YouLead Technical Training to learn practical poultry farming techniques from established farmers. “I learnt how to brood birds, how to give them vaccines and many other things I didn’t know before.”

Now, Mercy’s farm is a thriving business with a low mortality rate. “I bought 50 more birds after my entrepreneurship training and had only three mortalities. I sold them all off at a profit and then restocked with 100 birds from which I had just 5 mortalities.”

In addition to practical farming techniques, Mercy also learned practices that are both environmentally responsive and profitable. Like many other poultry farmers, Mercy had problems with disposing her bird waste. However, she overcame this challenge with an environmental friendly solution she learnt from her training; bagging up the waste and selling it as manure to crop farmers.

Encouraged by the steady growth of her business, Mercy is certain that her farm can improve within the next one year. “Once I get enough money, I plan to increase my pen to house more birds. I want it to have the capacity to house 500 birds or more by December 2018.”

YouLead is a 5–year project implemented by Cuso International and sponsored by Global Affairs Canada.

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Clement Idagu and his fish farm

Overcoming Unemployment through Farming

By Opaniyan Damilola • January 17, 2018

The global youth unemployment crisis has left many young graduates vulnerable to insecure school–to–work transitions. As a recent graduate of Crop Farming, Clement Idagu had his mind set on a professional career within the public sector. However, like many graduates, he became increasingly detached from the labour market.

Clement, a father of two, had the desire to further contribute to the well–being of his young family and began to search for alternative work opportunities. Taking the advice of a friend, he enrolled in the YouLead Entrepreneurship Development Training (EDT).

YouLead EDT teaches beneficiaries, through value chain analysis, the importance of identifying opportunities and constraints within various value chains. Accordingly, Clement scanned his community and realized that there was a shortage of fish in Bekwarra, so he decided to start a fish farm. “Cuso has made me have ideas I never had … and helped me to see opportunities that I never thought of,” he said.

Presently, Clement is enrolled in the YouLead technical training which is helping him run his business with less livestock loss. “I am learning the practical part of fish farming and my business is so much better for it,” he affirmed.

Clement also earns extra revenue to invest in expanding his farm by tapping palm–wine and raising domestic livestock. With a growing business, Clement now advises youth in his community to become entrepreneurs like him. He tells them, “If I knew what I now know, I would have learnt a skill years ago. Don’t expect a white–collar job, learn a skill.”

The YouLead Project is a five–year project implemented by Cuso International with funding from Global Affairs Canada.

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Emem Margret Daniel, a young microbiologist

Inspiring Youth to Become Entrepreneurs

By Uche Sophie Uduma • October 19, 2017

Due to significant unemployment in her community, Emem Margret Daniel, a young microbiologist had her mind set on diversifying her skills and making money through it. She heard about the YouLead project and immediately enrolled in a two–week YouLead Entrepreneurship Development training.

At the training, she picked interest in fishery; having identified her preferred value chain, she was exposed to necessary information she needed to successfully start up a business and employ other unemployed youth. Prepared to get all the skills she needed to start up her fish farm, she enrolled for technical training in fishery.

Emem participated in the YouLead technical training at School of Tropical Fish Breeding and Processing Technology, Calabar, where she learned how to rear fish from fingerling to maturity.

Seeing the passion Emem had for aquaculture, her father helped her with 500, 000 Naira (1735 CAD) which she used to start a fish farm. “My father was very happy with me when I decided to go into fishery; he saw the passion I had for the business and decided to support me with 500, 000 Naira (1735 CAD). With the money, I constructed six ponds of which each can contain up to 1,000 fish. Now I have 500 fish, but I am hoping that in two years’ time, I would be able to stock at least 5,000 fish in my pond,” she explained.

Starting a business in a community where most young people are unemployed has made Emem become a source of inspiration to other young people in her community. She revealed, “Many people come to my farm to ask me questions about fishery; some of them have even been inspired to start up their own fish farm. I was able to achieve this feat because of the training I got from YouLead project.”

The YouLead Project is a five–year project implemented by Cuso International and funded by Global Affairs Canada.

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More Success Stories

By Opaniyan Damilola • October 10, 2017

L-R Augustine Adah, his mother and his brother, Emmanuel

Father of two, Augustine Adah had applied for so many jobs since he graduated from the Federal College of Education in Obudu, Cross River State but his efforts to find a job were fruitless. Then he enrolled into the YouLead project implemented by Cuso International after a neighbour mentioned the opportunities he could access by being a beneficiary of the project.

Augustine was then invited to participate in a two–week YouLead entrepreneurship training where he learnt how to start up and manage a business. “I participated in the training with other young women and men at the local government council in Ogoja. We were taught how to develop a business canvas, market our products and the best ways to run a business. Then I decided to start up a fish farm,” he said.

When Augustine eventually completed his entrepreneurship training, he did not have enough funds to start his fish farm. He however, did not let that stop him from becoming an agricultural entrepreneur. Augustine decided to start a cassava and a yam farm with 10,000 Naira (35 CAD), which was part of the transport reimbursement he was paid after his entrepreneurship training.

While running his two farms, Augustine kept trying to set up a fish farm. He applied to compete for the Young Entrepreneurs Business Support Plan (YEBSP) grant implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), Canada. After going through the application process, he won a grant of 150,000 Naira (523 CAD) with which he finally started his fish farm.

Today, he has five people working in his three farms including his brother, Emmanuel who seeing his brother’s business is now motivated to set up his own farm. Now, Augustine no longer depends on his mother to take care of his family. He has made just enough to pay his workers monthly and take care of his wife, children and his aging mother.

Satisfied with his new source of livelihood, Augustine has this advice for unemployed youth, “Don’t sit and beg people for money; start a business. At the end, it’ll help you and your family.”

The YouLead Project is a five–year project implemented by Cuso International and funded by Global Affairs Canada.

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By Opaniyan Damilola • October 4, 2017

Creating Resilient Women Entrepreneurs

Alice Idagba is a single mother who got ahead in life by starting a poultry input supply business. The young entrepreneur was inspired to start her business after participating in YouLead entrepreneurship training at Ogoja Local Government Area, Cross River State.

During her entrepreneurship training, Alice decided to choose poultry input supply as her preferred value chain. Speaking about her reason for choosing input supply, she said, “I think that is the most interesting part of the poultry business. Here, in Ogoja, there are so many people involved in poultry business, so selling poultry feed is one of the most lucrative businesses anyone could venture into.”

Having made the decision to go into input supply for poultry, Alice joined the YouLead entrepreneurship training where she learnt the principles of starting a business. “I learnt how to start up a business and manage funds during the YouLead entrepreneurship training. So, after the training, I got 700,000 Naira (1944 CAD) from friends and relatives, which I used to start my business,”she says.

Her business has however, not been without setbacks. Alice faced serious challenges with transportation of her feed from the supplier to her location. “Sometimes, when we order for feed, it takes quite a while for it to get to Ogoja and the farmers are made to wait for the feed. Also, sometimes, the feed gets wet while on transit and we can’t sell wet feed,” she explains.

Despite these challenges, Alice has resolved not to give up. “When I make profit in a month I put the money back into the business. Within the next two months, I hope to expand the business; I’m already planning to buy birds to start a poultry farm and start selling vaccines for poultry,” she says.

The support provided by Cuso International’s YouLead Project empowered Alice Idagba with the skill, motivation and right mindset she needed to startup her profitable business and become a self–reliant single mother.

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By Opaniyan Damilola • August 28, 2017

Poultry Farming Gave me a Source of Livelihood - Asap

Since Asap Angba graduated from Cross River State University of Science and Technology in 2014, he has never had a paid job. He spent his time working in his cousin’s poultry farm, even though he was not paid. Having worked in the farm for a while, he began to develop interest in poultry production and processing.

In his quest to know more about poultry farming, Asap enrolled into the YouLead Entrepreneurship trainings. He said, “I heard about YouLead project from a friend and I enrolled into the project. I participated the Business Development Meeting and was shortlisted for the entrepreneurship training. I participated in the entrepreneurship training which lasted for two weeks. Afterwards, I was enrolled for technical training which lasted for about two months.”

During the technical training, Asap acquired the skill on how to manage a poultry farm profitably. “I participated in the technical training with other youth interested in starting business in the poultry value chain. We were how to run a poultry farm profitably, how to vaccinate the birds and feed them appropriately. The training really opened my eyes to many things I did not know while in my cousin’s farm.”

After the training, I was motivated to start up something no matter how small it may be. I started saving money to start a small poultry, with loans from friends I was able to start up my farm. He said, “I started with N100,000 Naira (346 CAD) which I had been saving for a while. I got more money from some friend too, altogether, I started with N250,000 Naira (865 CAD). With the money, I raised, I built a pen house, bought materials like feeders and drinkers. Afterwards, I went ahead to buy birds and feed.”

Although Asap is still at the early stage of his business, he finds poultry faming very fulfilling. “I started this farm two months ago, in June 2017 precisely, however, I find the business very satisfactory. I am expecting to sell off this stock in August and I expect to realise about N400,000 Naira (1384 CAD) from the sales. That will definitely leave me with some profit and money to restock the farm”

Asap points his ability to start up his business to the entrepreneurship and technical trainings he got from YouLead project implemented by Cuso International in Nigeria. He said, “I want to thank Cuso International for the awareness they have given us. The knowledge has been helpful in helping me build my business. Now, I have something to get up in the morning to do; I don’t have to roam the streets and be jobless.”

The YouLead Project is a five–year project implemented by Cuso International and funded by Global Affairs Canada.

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