Your Details

Your job title:

Founder

Your organization name:

VertAfrika Limited

When was your organization founded?

5th of March, 2020

In what city, town, or region are you located?

Lagos, Nigeria

In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Lagos, Nigeria

In which countries does your organization currently operate?

  • Nigeria
About You

Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?

If selected as a winner of the Elevate Prize, I would leverage on the vast professional support and network of the Elevate faculty to further develop my leadership skills, build and execute efficient product marketing strategies, improve the visibility of the VertAfrika brand, and optimize VertAfrika’s operational activities to create more positive impact.

I would utilize the funding from the Elevate Prize to increase the scale of my free skill empowerment program that focuses on empowering unemployed youth and women with practical Climate-Smart Agriculture/Agric-Business skills. The scaling will involve increasing the frequency of this program to monthly i.e., increasing the number of participants from eighty (80) unemployed youths and vulnerable women (forty people per set) to about four hundred and eighty (480) people a year.

As a winner of the Elevate Prize, I will be able to obtain more land to increase VertAfrika’s farming capacity from 10,000m2 to 120,000 m2 by expanding Vert City Farms into three (3) other municipalities within Nigeria, increasing our food production capacity to 500 Tons of fresh organic food and helping Nigeria to achieve food security while providing gainful sustainable employment and income to sixty (60) people.

Tell us about YOU:

I am a Sustainability professional with over 12 years’ experience in the Nigerian Oil & Gas and Africa’s renewable energy industry. My dedication to excellence, contributing my quota to solving social challenges and achieving any set objectives borne from diligence, perseverance, and hard work has made me one of the most celebrated Sustainability Professionals in Africa today. I have enjoyed national and continent-wide recognition for my remarkable professional achievements and have been the recipient of numerous awards and professional fellowships within and outside the African continent.

I am a social innovator who is very passionate about building sustainable practices and fueled by my visions of a better world for all humanity, I founded VertAfrika Limited, a social business to achieve that purpose. By 2027, I project that VertAfrika would have over 60 employees, empower 2880 people with its annual skill development program and produce over 500 Tons of food per annum from its urban farm centers in/around major cities across Nigeria.

By 2035, I want to be Nigeria’s Minister of Development in other to drive partnership between responsible citizens across, corporate entities, government at all levels and the international community to improve the quality of life of Nigerians.

Pitch your organization.

VertAfrika is an agile gender-balanced, youth-led social enterprise solving the problems of food insecurity from inefficient production along the food value chains and poverty from unemployment in Nigeria.

In October/November 2020, Cadre Harmonise (CH) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projects that 13.9 million Nigerians may suffer from food insecurity in 2021. According to the Intelligence Unit of The Economist, Nigeria is currently ranked at 38 out of 100 according to its food security status, this low-rank status is indicative of the challenges that the country experiences with food security in terms of access to food and general food availability.

VertAfrika solves the problem of national food insecurity by expanding Nigeria's food and agribusiness framework profitability to improve effective creation along the national food framework / value chain - food production, processing, and distribution.

According to a report published by National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose to 33.3% in 2020.

VertAfrika solves the problem of poverty and unemployment by providing the burgeoning population of unemployed youths and women with necessary agricultural skills that will enable them to get decent income from working or running their own agribusiness.

Describe what makes your work innovative.

To ensure the efficiency and innovativeness of our work, we utilized the PDCA Cycle of continuous improvement to model, test, and pilot a sustainable business model with a focus on making positive social impact.

Our major innovative approach is our location of operations and our production methodology. This solution is disruptive because it includes utilizing climate-smart agricultural technologies which increases crop yield per square meter and siting our farms within/around ready markets i.e., urban areas/cities in Nigeria a situation that drastically reduces our food travel distance enabling us to consistently deliver fresh quality foods with increased food shelf-life (because of reduced farm-to-plate time).

Furthermore, VertAfrika’s Urban Farming for Food Security is beyond enhancing food and agriculture system productivity, our work is unique because of the additional social and environmental impacts of our operations like providing youths and women with useful agricultural technology and business skills to enable them to earn a decent living or be business owners, reducing carbon footprint from food travel, and finally contributing 10% of food produce to help feed hungry children living in surrounding slums/children homes.

How and why is your organization having an impact on humanity?

The United Nations has recognized access to adequate food as both a fundamental human right and a collective responsibility.

VertAfrika Limited is a socially responsible business with innovative sustainability initiatives to positively impact humanity in the areas of food security, promoting sustainable living and providing people with life skills. We have taken the following steps to achieve our planned impact:

Impact 1 Food Security

  • Vert City Farms - Production of 40 Tons of organic food in/around urban areas in Nigeria

Impact 2 Economic Empowerment

  • Knowledge Transfer: Delivery of fully funded/free practical physical agri-business trainings to eighty (80) Nigeria Youth and women, about 47 have started their own their own small-scale farms or have secured agro-related employment.
  • Providing financial support to five (5) Agricprenuers attendees during the trainings.
  • Sustainable Income: Provide gainful employment for 6 women and youth at our facility.

We see our social development and sustainability strategy as a competitive advantage and this has helped us to consistently exceed our objectives, meet the needs of our customers and stakeholders, address pressing social issues in Nigeria while also stimulating economic growth.

Select the key characteristics of the community your organization is impacting.

  • Women & Girls
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your organization address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Which of the following categories best describes your work?

Food & Agriculture

Solution Team

  • Itohan Egbedion Chief Executive Officer/Founder, VertAfrika Limited
 
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