SBN Benin visits SBN Nigeria for Learning Exchange

The Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network in Benin is poised to launch as a network in 2024 with its inaugural strategy in development. The ongoing process of strategy development is crucial, hence the plan to visit the SBN Nigerian team with a learning exchange agenda that sets to improve and enhance the quality of the strategy, building on Nigeria’s successful experiences within the SUN movement and other relevant stakeholders. This visit presents an opportunity for the Benin team to glean best practices from SBN Nigeria and its stakeholders concerning the establishment of a national SBN, coordination with stakeholders, and how to support SBN members.

The visit also provide opportunity for the Benin team to participate in the final Business Model pitch competition of the Nourish Nigeria Challenge, and exchange insights with Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) colleagues on the implementation of CASCADE and consortium management to draw lessons learned.

The delegation from Benin included the SBN Coordinator, CARE CASCADE Manager, Secretary General of SUN Civil Society Benin (ASCINB), and the consultant responsible for developing the SUN business network strategy, alongside support from the SBN Africa Regional Manager

Reflections from Stakeholder Engagements

Meeting with GAIN Nigeria Team: A delegation from Benin, comprising the SBN Coordinator, CARE CASCADE Manager, Secretary General of SUN Civil Society Benin (ASCINB), and the consultant responsible for developing the SUN business network strategy, alongside support from the SBN Africa Regional Manager, engaged in a learning exchange with the GAIN Nigeria Country Team. Discussions centred on insights into GAIN Nigeria’s project portfolio and how SBN is integrated into country programs. The exchange highlighted the journey of SBN Nigeria from inception in 2014 to the present, focusing on membership, outreach, successes, challenges, opportunities, and partnerships, emphasizing the network’s value addition.

Meeting with Director of the Nutrition Department – SUN Focal Point: Members of the Benin SBN, CSN (ASCINB), and the CARE Benin CASCADE Manager met with Mrs. L.K. Bako, the Nigeria Director of Nutrition and SUN focal point, to exchange experiences regarding the coordination of nutritional activities within the SUN movement in Nigeria. Mrs. Bako highlighted significant progress in nutrition financing, attributing it to grassroots advocacy and institutionalized engagement with the legislative arm of the government. The Benin team identified similarities in challenges faced by Nigeria and gained valuable insights on enhancing engagement through improved coordination, frameworks, and strategies.

Meeting with PAOSMI: During the visit, the team from Benin had the opportunity to meet with the CEO and directors of PAOSMI, a confederation comprising over 60 affiliates that advocates for SMEs with governments. Given the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, this confederation presents a significant opportunity to link and trade across Africa. The meeting served as a platform for the Benin team to explore the potential benefits of partnering with PAOSMI and to advocate for the establishment of a similar outward-facing association in Benin.

Meeting with CS_SUNN: Another important meeting took place with CS_SUNN, where the CEO, Sunday Okonkwo, shared insights into CS_SUNN’s focus, strategy, membership, and reach across Nigeria. Sunday discussed best practices, fundraising efforts, and the sustainability of CS_SUNN’s initiatives. He emphasized the importance of collaboration over competition, highlighting CS_SUNN’s successful approach of working with organizations addressing both nutrition sensitivity and specific interventions. This collaborative mindset has been instrumental in CS_SUNN’s success, fostering mutual benefit and sustainable impact.

Participation at the SBN Nourish Nigeria Challenge:  The team participated in the Business Model Research (BMR) Pitch Competition organised by the Nigerian team in collaboration with FATE Foundation, an enterprise support organisation based in Nigeria. The competition was aimed at engaging with businesses that focuses on ensuring low-income earners can access and afford safe and nutritious foods.