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Perspectives in Global Development Seminar Series: Spring 2022Speaker: Kola MashaEveryone deserves the opportunity to prosper, free from poverty, and ensuing violence. Yet in West Africa, a downward spiral of increased violence is destabilizing local economies, increasing migration, and threatening the stability of the broader region and potentially Europe. At the heart of it all are unemployed youth at the risk of being recruited to conduct violent acts. At Babban Gona we believe that the best way to disrupt this downward spiral of poverty and violence is to create opportunities for dignified and fulfilling work for the very demographic at the risk of being led astray: The Rural Youth. To address this challenge, we make farming much more profitable for these rural youth. Located at the epicenter of this crisis in Northern Nigeria, Babban Gona’s innovative technology platform and program makes farming much more profitable for smallholder farmers, turning at-risk youth into successful entrepreneurs. This, in turn, stimulate local economies, disrupting the cycle of poverty and violence. To date Babban Gona has cumulatively supported over 200,000 smallholders and created over 350,000 jobs.The Babban Gona solution begins with enabling our smallholder members to achieve double the profitability of the average farmer in Nigeria, by improving crop yields per hectare, reducing cost of production, and increasing unit price at market. This in turn halts the cycle of poverty and violence, by turning unemployed youth at risk of conducting violent acts into successful agricultural entrepreneurs. Finally, we create prosperous communities as life improves once violence is reduced enabling individuals, families and economies prosper.About the SpeakerPrior to co-founding Babban Gona, Kola was a Managing Director and CEO of a subsidiary in the Notore Group, one of Nigeria’s leading agricultural conglomerates, where he led the development and execution of Notore’s commercial