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Haowa`s success story in agriculture

Haowa Bello is a 33-year old agropreneur from Lagos, Nigeria. She is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Madame Coquette enterprise. Her company designs and manufactures line of luxury leather bags in Nigeria which are sold globally in New York, Berlin and London. Haowa is a beneficiary of the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) that FAO is implementing together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria.

The YEAP programme was formulated in 2013 to create decent rural employment opportunities for Nigerian youth in agriculture. It is expected to create 750,000 jobs for the youth over a 5-year period. So far, 6,618 young Nigerian agropreneurs have been trained in different value chains, in the framework of YEAP (3,893 female and 2,725 males).

Through a YEAP grant, Haowa was able to set up a commercial goat farm in Lagos, called Fula Farms, which is connected to her other fashion enterprise, Madame Coquette. So while selling meat and dairy from Fula Farms, she also produces raw materials as leather used for her handbags in Madame Coquette. This allows her to control the quality of her handbags` raw materials and also the whole supply chain.  

Fula Farms is rapidly expanding and can currently boost of 5 regularly contracted young employees. But in peak seasons, the farm provides additional temporary job opportunities. Haowa sells Fula Farms products locally in Lagos State, to markets, individuals and restaurants.

However, her fashion enterprise, Madame Coquette has seen a huge success and is now marketed globally. The YEAP funds allowed both Fula Farms and Madame Coquette to improve in infrastructure, set up a presence online and therefore increase its clients' base, the number of livestock and the retailing points. Both companies have seen significant progress in the past years.

Haowa's success story has gained attention in the media and has been featured on CNN's African Voices. The opportunity from the media has taken the business to a new higher level. Her farm is now regularly organizing fieldtrips to the farm with schools, to encourage students to learn about agriculture and develop interest in building a career in agriculture. This would enable the youth to explore the agricultural sector as a business and employment opportunity. Her fashion enterprise, Madame Coquette has also set up a training programme for youth on how to produce quality leather and handbags.

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