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2023 – Advancing Co-Investment Partnerships to Boost Economic Growth in West Africa  


The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) wishes you a prosperous, healthy, and happy new year. We look forward to great impact in 2023 through strategic partnerships to address climate change risks, improve food security, promote social and gender inclusion, improve agribusiness competitiveness, and promote regional and international trade and exports.


During 2022, we experienced several challenges that disrupted business and food security in the region—challenges ranging from the Russia/Ukraine conflict to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to severe insecurity across many areas of the region. Despite these challenges, the Trade Hub, with the primary goal of stimulating economic growth and social development throughout West Africa, thrived by successfully co-investing in the economic growth projects of successful private sector enterprises and making them more successful. With partners in 14 countries in West Africa, the Trade Hub’s blended investment model mitigates risks for new private sector investment, creates jobs, and increases the volume and value of West African exports.  


As of December 2022, the Trade Hub signed co-investment grant agreements with 91 companies across different sectors in West Africa, including health, financial services, agriculture, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), and apparel. These partners have achieved remarkable results to date. With $81.5 million in grants awarded to 91 grantees, 44,287 jobs have been created, with $226 million leveraged in private capital, and $93 million achieved in regional sales and export to international markets. 


As we kick-start 2023, we will continue advancing our partnership with these private-sector companies, providing them with adequate support and guidance to ensure an impact-driven implementation of their activities. We anticipate the diverse opportunities to showcase our co-investment partners to a variety of audiences, highlighting their results and lessons learned throughout the coming year. In this newsletter, learn more about the great work achieved by our co-investment partners thus far and the progress they are making.   


Robin Wheeler

Chief of Party

New Co-Investment Partners

New Co-Investment Partners Impacting Agriculture & Health

The Trade Hub finalized six new co-investment partnerships during the last quarter of 2022, increasing the already 80 plus portfolio of companies. The two recently awarded grants in Senegal are investments in the healthcare sector that will improve access to medical services in rural areas of the country and will introduce telemedicine solutions into the country’s health system. Totaling approximately $2.7 million, the significant co-investments made in the health and agriculture sectors since the last edition of The Hub are directly impacting lives and communities by improving nutrition and health outcomes.


Made possible through USAID missions across West Africa and dedicated funding through the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa and Feed the Future initiatives, the co-investment partnerships currently span fifteen West African countries—Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Mali, Liberia, Niger, Cabo Verde, Sierra Leone, Guinea, The Gambia, and Guinea Bissau – and Cameroon. As of December 31, 2022, the Trade Hub signed agreements with 91 co-investment partners, awarded $81.5 million in grants, and leveraged $226 million in new private investment. Together, we are contributing significantly to economic growth in West Africa by creating jobs, boosting incomes for people working in dozens of industries, and increasing exports of agricultural and non-agricultural products sourced from or made in the region to the United States and other countries.

Partners Update

Women-Owned Businesses Advancing Women’s Economic Empowerment in West Africa’s Agricultural Sector

According to the Africa Development Bank (AFDB), women make up almost 50 percent of the agricultural labor force in sub-Saharan Africa, and do an estimated 80 percent of agricultural work. These women work primarily in smallholder production; however, they receive a significantly lower share of income in comparison to men in the same sub-sector. Factors ranging from age, ethnicity, religion, and disability are barriers to women’s economic inclusion in the agricultural sector. In some countries, underlying cultural beliefs are at play, with some traditions in place that prohibit women from owning farmland. Additionally, lockdowns and border closures from the COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions to food systems and markets, thus creating more challenges for women. 


On track to achieve its job target, the Trade Hub is working to eliminate some of these barriers. Its two-pronged integration strategy—equal access to productive resources and the empowerment of women and youth—prioritizes co-investments that demonstrate sustainable outcomes for these two underserved groups. To date, the Trade Hub has created 44,287 jobs, 65 percent for women and 40 percent for youth. Supporting businesses in the region through strategic co-investment partnerships will not only catalyze economic growth but significantly empower underserved and marginalized groups, especially women.  Learn more here.

At the Edge of Hunger: Trade Hub Partners

Improving Food Security in West Africa 

West Africa has faced increasing food insecurity for the last decade, and the devastating health, climate, and political events of the 2020s have only exacerbated this condition. Addressing the need for extra-governmental, private-sector investment in the agricultural sector in the region, one of our top priorities at the USAID West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub), is promoting sustainable interventions in food production, agri-processing, and food availability on the local market. The Trade Hub partners with private sector companies working in agricultural value chains through co-investment grants and technical assistance to enable these companies to implement projects that drastically improve their production and processing capacity, while increasing food quality and availability in the region. Learn more here

Boosting Agribusiness Competitiveness in West Africa

through Co-investment Partnerships 

Working with businesses spanning agri-financing, research and development, and cold chain logistics, the Trade Hub has invested in developing a stronger infrastructure to support agricultural productivity and strengthen the economic ecosystem for agri-businesses to thrive in West Africa. The strategic partnership with Sinergi Burkina is already proving successful, as the company leverages its $1 million co-investment grant from the Trade Hub with other investments to provide direct loans and training in three agribusinesses in Burkina Faso. Learn more here.

USAID’s Trade Hub Facilitates the Sales

of Naïmadolls in the U.S. Market

Technical Assistance (TA) provided by the Trade Hub is integral to the recent success of moving toys created by Naïmadolls from Côte d’Ivoire into American homes last holiday season. This woman-led company successfully gaining access to the U.S. market—becoming the first company from Côte d’Ivoire to be listed on Amazon—is largely a result of the Trade Hub’s continued efforts in supporting Prosper Africa’s initiative to increase two-way trade between the United States and West Africa. Naïma Dolls sales from Amazon will directly impact the larger Trade Hub goal of facilitating more than $300 million in exports from West Africa.


A key objective of the Trade Hub is to boost regional and international exports to the United States under AGOA. To this end, it has provided targeted TA to co-investment partners and other export-ready companies in the region requesting support. Naïmadolls is one such company, which formally connected with the Trade Hub in April 2022. The first toy and game brand in Côte d’Ivoire, the African-inspired toy company was founded in 2015 by Sara Coulibaly, who was determined to allow young African children to gain a positive self-image and develop their self-esteem through their toys. Naïmadolls board games and dolls are intentionally designed to represent the beauty and diversity of African culture. Learn more here.

Success in the Making

Adopting Modern Practices to Combat Food Insecurity: Nalmaco’s Story

Equipped with an $834,062 co-investment grant from the Trade Hub, Nalmaco, a Nigerian food and processing company, provides integrated agribusiness services within the maize and soybean value chain in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Nalmaco is one of the largest food processing companies in West Africa, with clients that include Nestle and Cadbury. Through this co-investment partnership, Nalmaco will support 2,000 smallholder farmers and increase their incomes by directly sourcing raw materials from the smallholders while providing improved technological storage warehouses for the procured grains. Read more here

One Kernel at a Time: Savannah Fruits Company Story

In October 2021, the Trade Hub awarded a co-investment grant of $1.47 million to Savannah Fruits Company (SFC) to support the company’s commendable contribution to transparency and equity in the shea value chain. SFC is progressing in its aim to establish 28 organic shea processing centers with equipment that improve production scale and efficiency, workers’ health and safety, and product quality in Ghana, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire. SFC is providing capacity building and business support for the women in their shea co-operatives and establishing market linkages from villages to SFC export production facilities across West Africa, and further to U.S. and international cosmetic companiesRead more here.

Partner's Spotlight

Nest for All

By Salimata Dia

Communications Specialist

In Senegal, there is a high disparity in access to quality health services between high and low-to-middle-income populations. In the critical sector of women and children's care, there are also acute geographical disparities, with the concentration of most care services in the center of Dakar, leaving the rest of the country underserved. From pregnancy care to child nutrition, great efforts are needed to narrow the gaps in both the quality and extent of healthcare services available. 


Through its partnership with the Trade Hub, Nest for All (NEST) is expanding coverage of healthcare workers (upskilled midwives, nurses, and doctors) to attend to women and children in underserved urban and peri-urban areas. NEST will leverage the USAID co-investment grant and its investment, to integrate eight new healthcare points of service to its network in Dakar’s peri-urban areas (Thiès, Kaolack, and Diourbel) allowing more than 50,000 patients to access affordable and quality services for pregnant women and newborns. 

The company will also provide on-site professional training to 140 midwives and nurses. This delivery program will help empower self-employed health workers while building a pool of paramedical staff qualified in newborn care protocols and norms for prenatal and postnatal visits.  

In this Q&A, Khadidiatou Nakoulima, CEO of NEST, explains how training and attracting health professionals to underserved areas will narrow the gap between high-income and low-middle-income patients.  

Q: What is your vision for improving access to medical services in underserved areas of Senegal?

A: Our vision for improving access to quality health services, especially in the area of women and childcare, relies on three major axes:  

  • Upskilled midwives and nurses who are continuously trained should be at the forefront of patient care and they should refer patients to doctors when necessary.  
  • A Quality Management System is essential to ensure both a standard level of quality across the points of care and continuous improvement. 
  • Lastly, Information Technology should support processes to gain efficiency and improve coordination between health professionals, ultimately improving patients’ care journeys. 

Q: How does NEST build its network of health workers? Please, tell us how you are able to attract the best health professionals to work in underserved areas.  

A: NEST heavily invests in the continuous training of its health workers. Training programs encompass subjects such as pregnancy follow-up, Early Child Development, Hygiene, Quality Management, etc. This allows each individual to progress within the organization and break the glass ceiling in their career. Our health workers value our skills development programs, which often result in an evolution in their careers and revenues.  

Q: Knowing that the retention of health workers in underserved areas might be a challenge, how does your company plan to ensure retention and long-term contracts with these health workers?  

A: NEST is a mission-driven company. Our mission shapes our strategy and operations. Our team members, from health workers to administrative staff, feel more accomplished in their work. What helps to retain them is this shared sense of purpose, the company’s values, and the opportunities for professional development. 

Q: What do you hope to achieve through this co-investment partnership?

A: The major milestones of the project will be to: 

  • Integrate and upgrade centers located in the targeted regions of Senegal, 
  • Design and deliver training for health professionals on care, management, quality, etc. 
  • Deploy trained caregivers to deliver care services. 

Training, monitoring, and evaluation will be ongoing as required by our Quality Management System. We aim to gain an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification for some of the new centers. 

Q: Finally, what are the plans for NEST in the near future?

A: For the next two years, we will focus on deploying points of care in the targeted regions of Senegal and provide training to selected healthcare professionals. The project development phase will end in May 2024. Afterward, we plan to capitalize on our experience and expand our footprint in other West African cities facing similar challenges in accessing quality care.

Save the Dates

The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is excited to invite you for a webinar, "Women Advancing Technology & Agribusiness: Showcasing Trade Hub co-investment partners leveraging technology to advance food security," on March 15, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. WAT (1 p.m. GMT).  


Speakers will include: Farhat Kunmi-Olayiwola, Head, Strategy & Corporate Finance at AFEX; Abdulwahab Abubakar, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning at Nalmaco Nigeria Limited; and Salma Abdulai, Co-Founder & CEO at AMAATI Company Limited. Each will share insights from their respective organization’s strategies, activities, and results showcasing how they engage and empower women while leveraging technology to advance food security. Register here

(Note: This webinar will be presented in English only, with no translation services available.)

The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub is excited to invite you to a webinar, "Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in West Africa Through Co-Investment Partnerships" on March 22, 2023, from 2:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. WAT (1 p.m. GMT).  


Join speakers from ShEquity, a co-investment partner financing women-led businesses across the region; Sinergi Burkina, a co-investment partner providing equity and loans to SMEs across the agricultural, health, energy, and other key sectors in Burkina Faso; and Ferme Semenciere Ainoma, a co-investment partner mobilizing female farmers and equipping them with land and seeds to farm vegetables for improved income and economic empowerment in Niger. These co-investment partners will share insights about their activities and results. Register here

(Note: This webinar will be presented mostly in French, with English translation services available.)

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Disclaimer: The contents of this newsletter are the sole responsibility of Creative Associates International and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, or Prosper Africa.