Posted by Adaora Anozie

On August 10, 2015

Charged with the objective to catalyse private sector investment in innovative, commercially viable, and inclusive business models that result in improved performance, job creation and improved income opportunities for poor men and women engaged in the Wholesale and Retail sector, two funding windows have been launched by the Growth and Employment in States – Wholesale and Retail Sector (GEMS4) – a market development project in Nigeria funded by DFID/UKaid and the World Bank.

The GEMS4 Enterprise Challenge Fund is a £3.5 million private sector development matching grant fund set to provide financial and technical support to innovative business ideas that will either tackle the loss of perishable produce due to spoilage and wastage, or create income opportunities in the sector for women.

It has been identified that 7 out of every 10 baskets of perishable food produce such as tomatoes, pepper, and vegetables are lost within the value chain before it gets to the end consumer due to poor preservation techniques and storage facilities, while many women in the wholesale and retail sector which contributed (N22 trillion) to the 2014 national GDP are poor.

The funding windows were created in a bid to spur the private sector into developing and providing the needed solution.Although the fund is focused on business innovation and solutions, applying organisations and projects must meet certain key criteria to be eligible to apply for grant funding support.

The best ideas will receive grant investment of up to £150,000 with special consideration for applications from women owned or managed enterprises.

Eligible organisations are encouraged to apply for the GEMS4 Enterprise Challenge Fund through the following Funding Windows which are currently open for application:

– Women Economic Empowerment

– Off Grid Storage Solutions

Each funding window seeks to address a specific market problem facing small and medium enterprises, small-holder farmers/producers, poor and vulnerable men and women engaged in economic activities within the wholesale and retail sector, and its value chain.