According to the 2014 Ghana Living Standards Survey, 32% of the country’s 9 million youth population is unemployed. In the Northern Region, Ghana’s poorest and the area where Urbanet works, unemployment among young people aged 15-24 is thought to be 49%. High illiteracy rates (22%), low educational attainment (61% end their education at Junior High School), inadequate employability skills, lack of experience and lack of access to training opportunities force youth to migrate to the South in search of livelihoods opportunities. Agriculture, Ghana’s largest industrial sector, employs 42% of the economically active population aged 15 and over and is one of the few available sources of income in the Northern Region. Representing almost 30% of the country’s entire landmass, the Northern Region produces the bulk of the nation’s cereals and legumes. Yields, however, remain low due to the use of low-quality seeds. Government promotion has seen demand for high quality, high potency seeds increase substantially but supply remains limited due to a number of reasons, including inadequate numbers of certified seed growers, lack of distribution outlets, poor packaging, and branding practices, etc. A further reason is inadequate access to agronomic (extension) services and advice. The ratio of Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) to farmers currently averages 1:1850 nationally and 1:3,500 for Ghana’s Northern Region compared to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) standard of 1:500. While a small number of significant international donors focusing on agriculture operate in Ghana (the N2Africa project that Urbanet is one of the implementing partners is funded by the Gates Foundation) they do not have youth-focused projects and tend to prefer partners with a larger absorptive capacity than organizations of Urbanet’s size.
Urbanet is a network of small-scale farmer organizations which promotes sustainable agronomic practices as a means to ensuring food security, sustainable and productive livelihoods and healthy environments. It was formally established in 2005 and it mainly works to strengthen the capacity of communities and especially the youth to access livelihood opportunities in agriculture. Urbanet’s Youth Empowerment and Skills Development Programme trains youth in shea-butter, soymilk and rice processing as well as in animal rearing and provides them with support to set up their own businesses or form cooperatives within a range of value chains. Over the years, Urbanet has successfully established and sustained a micro-credit scheme with a current total client base of 1000 (majority women engaged in agro-processing) and 100% recovery rate. Abdul-Rashid Zakaria, Urbanet’s founding Director, has a BA in Integrated Development Studies and an MBA. He has over 10 years’ experience in food and nutrition security as well as youth development.
EMpower’s 5th grant to Urbanet will help address some of the impact of the pandemic for 132 young women to whom Urbanet will offer refresher trainings on shea butter processing and animal health management as well as training in digital marketing. In addition, the grant will support Urbanet as it develops its new strategic plan together with a fundraising strategy and the organization’s first dedicated fundraiser to support implementation of the new plan.
Primary Location: Tamale
Funded Since: 2015
Stay up-to-date on the latest EMpower news, highlights from our grantee partners, upcoming events, and more.