Goliath chickens in Benin: creating new jobs in rural Africa

Rural Africa’s economy is slow-moving. Yet there is no shortage of entrepreneurial spirit. Local coaches are tapping into this – resulting in thousands of new jobs.

Camille Tohozin is ambitious – the small farmer and entrepreneur from south Benin is talking about reforming the domestic poultry industry. Eighteen years ago, Camille decided to become a poultry breeder, not least as a way of joining the battle against undernourishment and unemployment. Unfortunately, the domestic poultry industry faces strong competition from the foreign meat imports that supply supermarkets and restaurants. To keep ahead of his competitors, Camille is constantly working on new ideas. These include developing his own breed of chicken – the Goliath, which is much bigger and more productive than traditional local breeds.

Small and medium-sized enterprises like Camille’s dominate economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa. While the spirit of entrepreneurship is evident in many places, small companies often come up against barriers to their growth – most frequently a lack of finance, business management skills or market access.

This is the entry point for the Small and Medium Enterprises Business Training and Coaching Loop (SME Loop) offered by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Over a six-month period, small-business owners like Camille Tohozin acquire new business skills. With individual coaching, they are able to develop specific solutions for their own enterprises. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has trained around 60 agricultural extension workers in Benin alone, who are working on the ground as business coaches. This approach guarantees that the support provided is professional and appropriate to the local context.

Demand in Benin is particularly high. So far, 2,000 small-business owners have completed SME Loop training. As a result, they have more than doubled their turnover on average – as well as creating over 2,500 new full-time jobs.

The SME Loop’s success does not stop there. It is currently being implemented in 14 African countries, including in the Green Innovation Centres, a project that is part of BMZ’s One World – No Hunger Initiative. By 2024, more than 23,000 new jobs will be created in India and throughout Africa as a result of the Green Innovation Centres, for example in food processing. The project thus not only disseminates innovative technologies but also promotes sustainable development in rural areas.

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