Women play significant role in agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing up to 50% of the agricultural labor force by producing food while ensuring family nutrition and food security. But, as has been extensively documented, gender-based inequalities in access to and control of productive and financial resources inhibits their productivity and reduces food security and nutritional outcomes.
According to AGRA’s West Africa Regional Head, Mr. Forster Boateng, Women in Africa are highly entrepreneurial and are driven, largely by necessity, to start small businesses in agriculture.
These businesses are mostly microenterprises, largely informal and often trade in saturated local markets, where intense competition drives down eventual benefits.
He said Agriculture, mostly, rural activities offer women one of the greatest possibilities to start small enterprises and with supply chain integration, a chance to grow businesses along value chains.
Mr. Forster Boateng, was speaking at AGRA’s VALUE4HER in-country networking and advocacy breakfast event on Tuesday April 6, 2021, at the African Regent Hotel in Accra, dubbed, “Facilitating Dialogue to Enhance Women Participation in Agribusiness.”
The overall objective of the breakfast event was to facilitate dialogue among women agribusiness leaders and industry actors.
He explained that, “VALUE4HER is AGRA’s continental program, aimed at increasing performance of women agrienterprises, through access to markets and trade, finance and investments, knowledge and skills, networking and building women’s collective voice.
The Regional Head of West Africa indicated that, the program is inspired by past experiences and recent evidence showing that if female-led agricultural enterprises are nurtured along a growth pathway, while having access to the business resources and capabilities they need, they can become profitable businesses, increase incomes for women and boost the wellbeing of families, communities and society as a whole.
“Constraints to women’s agribusiness growth go beyond access to business resources, and as such, interventions need to boost the capability and confidence of female business leaders to ensure they have a growth mindset and build their business networks and collective capital to not only surmount gendered market barriers, but also to favorably shape the business environment and to have real-time access to market information and intelligence.” Mr. Forster added.
According to the organizers of the programme, VALUE4HER is powered by VALUE4HERConnect, Africa’s first women in agribusiness digital market place, offering integrated business solutions to women agri enterprises. The platform seeks to expand women’s presence in markets where they trade, access new markets nationally, regionally and internationally, and to acquire the capital, business and technical partners and resources required to support their growing businesses.
Additionally, the platform acts as a valuable database for a diverse group of sustainable agriculture-oriented partners seeking female business partners to fund, trade with, procure and source from. The Platform has registered over 750 women agribusinesses in Africa and has scope to grow this community to a much higher level.
AGRA in collaboration with PIATA partners seek to grow this program and the digital asset that powers it, to be the go-to digital business resource for African women in agribusiness, to reach women entrepreneurs in all countries in Africa.
AGRA seeks to mobilise national, continental, global market actors and gender lens buyers and investors to do business with women companies, while technical assistance builds their capacity to transform their incomes and livelihoods through these market opportunities.
A former Director of Ministry of food and Agriculture (MoFA), Angela Dannson, who moderatored the occasion also emphasized that, these events are aimed at promoting interactions between women companies, markets actors and other public and development actors for better understanding of needs and opportunities.
To her, the event is also aimed at sensitizing women companies and partners on the program VALUE4HER and its service offerings, in order to reach scale and impact.
She further noted that, AGRA’s VALUE4HER program is bent to increase the performance of female-led agribusiness enterprises in Africa by facilitating access to high-value markets and trade opportunities, provide access to finance and investments, build women leaders’ skills and capacities to grow their businesses and build voice and agency through collective capital, networks across the continent, while facilitating easier connections with buyers, financiers and other business service providers.