Women play a significant role in agriculture in Sub Saharan Africa, providing up to 50% of agricultural labour force, producing food, while ensuring family nutrition and food security. But as has been documented in recent evidence, gender-based inequalities in access to and control of productive and financial resources inhibits their productivity by 20-30% in comparison to their male counterparts. This gender gap reduces their contributions to the agricultural GDP by 2.5-4.0%.
Agriculture offers one of the greatest possibilities for women to not only start agribusinesses but to graduate their businesses along the value chains. A large majority of women in agribusiness mostly operate micro enterprises that are largely informal and often trade in saturated local markets, where intense competition drives down eventual benefits.
Against this backdrop, CTA developed the programme VALUE4HER, with the aim of increasing value for women in agribusinesses through improved market access and business linkages; improved knowledge, skills, and capacities; and digitally enabled socio and business networking. Adopting three mutually reinforcing approaches, the project embarked on a pathway to increase performance of women agribusinesses and ultimately improve incomes for women agribusinesses leaders.
The project has had huge successes, albeit the short time of implementation. Series of trainings and capacity building activities, coupled with business to business fair and match making, were undertaken to enable women access competitive agricultural markets. Several masterclasses were held alongside key events to assist acquire additional skills necessary to run their businesses for success.
The project reached over 350 women agripreneurs in Africa through trainings, knowledge networking and trade mediation. During these trainings, the women agripreneurs were supported with hands-on business curation training for credit worthiness and investment readiness. The project has achieved all its set targets. A total of 165 large women business segments (against a target of 100) reported increasing incomes emanating from improved market access and enhanced technical business management skills. Moreover, up to 12,240 medium segment business were supported to access high value markets.
CTA and partners (AWAN and AWIEF) organized 15 high-level knowledge events with key thought leaders and strategic stakeholders across the continent. These events were focused on targeted advocacy and messaging on key issues hindering women empowerment, such as access to markets, access to finance, trade and regulation, other gender related barriers. Through these events we reached over 18,000 delegates directly, while our media campaign outreach was estimated at about 3 million people.
Other notable achievements are the launch of the Women Agripreneur of the year Award (WAYA). The award recognises women entrepreneurs who have excelled in different segments of their businesses and who also demonstrated remarkable growth and innovation. The annual awards, which were held twice, in close collaboration with AWIEF, saw 6 top women-agripreneurs awarded.
A key highlight of the VALUE4HER programme is the development of the digital platform dubbed VALUE4HERConnect. VALUE4HERConnect is Africa’s first agribusiness intelligence platform aimed at facilitating growth and development of women owned agribusiness enterprises. Currently hosting over 639 women agripreneurs, the platform provides an avenue for networking, enhancing information flow within these networks and establishing contacts with their markets, supply chains and other service providers, including investment and financing partners. Some project activities were affected by CTA closure decisions, the iconic Women to Women supply chain grant was not implemented because we lacked time to see the actions plan implemented to their logical conclusions. Equally, some partners activities were affected by Corona virus pandemic, hence a one month to end of June was granted to complete partner contract activities in a responsible manner.
This report covers progress of the project, from its inception to closure. The report presents highlights of activities and results, brief description of implementing partners, lessons, and insights gained through the implementation process.