Women are actors in numerous agricultural value chains, offering huge potential for their participation in markets, but very few are involved at the end of the chain. Promoting women’s agribusinesses is therefore a viable route to improving livelihoods and prosperity for rural communities. However, women often lack access to competitive markets, and technical, leadership and management capacities. Women also experience other gender-related barriers, including access to finance, to help grow their businesses and enable them to compete more effectively in the market.
Interventions to increase business opportunities for women have often failed to conduct robust market analyses, resulting in market saturation and weaker than expected returns. Access to finance coupled with business management and leadership skills should strengthen connections to markets and increase technology uptake among women’s businesses. Data, particularly about women-led businesses, is either non-existent or fragmented between different actors; it is therefore crucial to construct a knowledge base upon which evidence can be generated and useful nuances on the critical success factors for women’s agribusinesses developed. In collaboration with partners, CTA’s VALUE4HER project will tackle these constraints in order to increase the incomes and employment for women in agribusinesses.
CTA will work with regional partners to support existing women-led agribusinesses in Southern Africa, Eastern Africa, Western Africa and the Caribbean. The project will partner with existing women entrepreneur networks, such as The African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) and Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF), that are already supporting agripreneurs.
The VALUE4HER project will increase incomes and employment opportunities for women by linking women-led agribusinesses with competitive high value regional and global markets, and improving women business leader’s technical and managerial skills, with training on market dynamics, to grow their agribusinesses further. The project will facilitate innovative business linkages with other women-led agribusinesses and help agripreneurs to link with women-led suppliers, to benefit other women in the value chain. In addition, VALUE4HER will also use knowledge and targeted advocacy to address economic barriers to women’s entrepreneurship (i.e. access to finance), as well as highlight and reinforce market practices that enable women to succeed. A Women Agripreneur of the Year award will be launched as part of the project, to create visibility for successful women and spur innovations for women within the agribusiness sector.
The project, which will run initially for 2 years (2018–2020), will target women who own agribusinesses that operate in horticulture, grains, dairy, poultry, or fisheries value chains. Key activities include:
- Development of a digital database of women entrepreneurs for each region.
- Training women on business leadership and managerial skills.
- Development of one women’s agribusiness e-hub in each region, which will offer services to women entrepreneurs.
- Organisation of one ‘business-to-business’ fair and match-making event in each region.
- Provision of a competitive innovation fund to enhance linkages with women lower down the value chain and initiate efficiency measures, including the use of ICTs.
- Design and Implementation of advocacy initiatives aimed at addressing key economic barriers to women’s entrepreneurship.
- Preparations and co-hosting of a global forum on women in agripreneurship.
- Launch of a Women Agripreneur of the Year award to recognise entrepreneurs who have excelled and shown remarkable innovation in their business.
One hundred large women-led agribusinesses (90 from Africa and 10 from the Caribbean) will be supported to access high value markets, which will benefit 10,000 medium-scale women agribusinesses and 50,000 beneficiaries. The business e-hubs will reach 100,000 women involved in agribusiness. The project will also contribute to learning about women in agribusiness and agricultural value chains, the economic empowerment of women, and barriers for women entrepreneurs.