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#VALUE4HERConnect: Africa’s first digital platform for women-led agribusiness

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#VALUE4HERCoonect is packed with multiple features that are aimed at addressing some of the key barriers for women’s empowerment in agriculture

© AWAN

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A new digital platform has created an avenue for women agripreneurs to easily reach out to one another, access market information and training, and improve their engagement with the national, continental and global agribusiness ecosystem.

CTA, in partnership with the African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) and Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), has developed #VALUE4HERConnect, a digital platform to connect women agripreneurs in Africa. Launched in June 2019, during the 1st AWAN-Afrika Continental Conference & B2B Fair, the #VALUE4HERConnect portal is Africa’s first agribusiness platform aimed at providing online support to improve market access, knowledge, skills and global networks to address leading barriers for women in agribusiness. The digital platform stems from the VALUE4HER initiative which has the objective is to promote and empower women in agribusiness.

“#VALUE4HERConnect is a game changer in how women relate with external buyers, financiers and other stakeholders,” says Sabdiyo Dido Bashuna, CTA’s Senior Programme Coordinator, Value Chain & Agribusiness. “The digital services level the ground for women, in terms of access to market information and intelligence! It will no longer be business as usual – information is power and the power will now be in the palms of women in agribusiness.”

Key pillars of #VALUE4HERConnect

The platform is packed with multiple features that are aimed at addressing some of the key barriers for women’s empowerment in agriculture.

Women-to-women community

The Women2Women Community is a feature that allows women to freely interact with each other and share knowledge, experiences and potential business-to-business partnerships (B2B). The platform creates an avenue through which women agripreneurs, supporters, and those that seek to do business with them can easily reach out to each other and create valuable networks.

Market information

Poor access to markets for agriproducts is a leading challenge for agripreneurs, particularly women. This feature serves as a first point of call for women who want to do business and trade in African and global agricultural markets. It contains broad information about country trade, and policy and regulation profiles that will increase knowledge for women involved in inter-country and intercontinental trade. This feature also contains buyer and supplier information, commodity prices as well as market entry requirements. For external sustainable agriculture actors seeking to partner with, fund and trade with women in business, the #VALUE4HERConnect platform therefore provides a valuable database rich with diverse data.

Finance resources

Access to financial resources plays a crucial role in boosting prospects for women in agribusiness, as well as their successful participation along agricultural value chains. #VALUE4HERConnect helps to address this by providing information on agribusiness-focused financiers, including banks, investment funds, development finance institutions, impact investors, and crowdfunding, etc.

Capacity building resources

New skills are mandatory in keeping up with the evolving business environment. This feature provides development resources including online and off-line training programmes, webinars, and provides information about incubators and accelerators.

Agribusiness events and publications about agribusiness

Members of the platform receive regular updates about agribusiness events including exhibitions and conferences, both in Africa and internationally. The updates will also highlight selected publications and blogs concerning developments in the African and global agribusiness ecosystem. The network will also provide women members with opportunities to attend and participate in other #VALUE4HER organised events, furthering opportunities to connect with markets and other service providers and partners.

A growing network

Since June 2019, 450 women-led agribusinesses from 27 different African countries have registered. Agribusinesses that meet the following requirements can still join here:

  • a registered woman-led (at 60% ownership) agro-based company, based in Africa;
  • registered for at least 3 years; and
  • business capitalisation of between US$20,000 and US$100,000.

The members of the #VALUE4HERConnect platform are involved in the following sub sectors/commodities/services:

Commodity categories

  • Aquaculture 8%
  • Cereals and legumes 16%
  • Dairy and livestock 23%
  • Horticulture 33%
  • Mechanisation 7%

Service categories (13%) include business development consultation; extension services; inputs; marketing; processing; retail; training transportation and logistics.

Mobile app

#VALUE4HERConnect app is available on Google Play Store

#VALUE4HERConnect app is available on Google Play Store

© CTA

Recently the mobile version of the platform has be launched for Android devices and can be found on Google Play Store. The iOS compatible version is expected in the coming few weeks.

Location:

VALUE4HER: connecting women to new markets

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To enhance interaction and networking among African women in agribusiness and potential investors and trade partners, a B2B trade fair was recently held by the VALUE4HER initiative in Nairobi, Kenya. Sabdiyo Dido describes the aims and outcomes of the event.

Closing the gender digital divide, opening opportunities for women in agriculture

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Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are promoted as an equaliser of opportunities – but this is not always the case for women. Several African initiatives are demonstrating the critical contribution that information and knowledge can make to increase agricultural productivity and run a profitable agribusiness.

Digital networking boosts financial prospects for women agripreneurs

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It might keep the world fed, but there is little appetite for financing farming and farmers. Women in farming count access to finance as top of their challenges. Many run informal businesses. Expanding them into large operations comes with a long list of demands, including access to funding, collateral, business skills and a record of farming accomplishment. Digital technologies can help to boost prospects for women agripreneurs.

Securing finance for women agripreneurs – looking at the bigger picture

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Finance is key to accelerating African women’s agribusinesses, a necessary driver for their engagement in lucrative agricultural value chains. But many programmes aiming to facilitate women’s economic inclusion struggle to succeed. Two cases studies show how adopting a holistic approach can have more success in providing women agripreneurs with the financial services they need.

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