Without concerted effort, ongoing attempts to increase the productivity of African agriculture risk exacerbating already existing gender inequality and leaving African women worse off. However, with proper attention, agricultural growth could be the lever to unlock inclusive, agriculture-driven prosperity for the continent.
The United Nations estimates that gender inequality costs the African continent US$ 95 billion every year. Agriculture is key to achieving gender equality on the continent since agriculture is important to women and women are important to African agriculture.
The agriculture sector remains the largest employer of African women with 62% of economically active women employed in agriculture and over 90% of economically active women in Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso employed in the sector. Still, agriculture is a major driver of gender inequality on the continent as evidenced by the gender gaps in both productivity and rural wages. The World Bank reports that productivity on womens’ farms is significantly lower per hectare compared to men, ranging from 13% less in Uganda to 25% less in Malawi. Further, depending on the country, the rural wage gap between men and women in Africa is estimated at between 15-60%.
Agribusiness incubation can play a critical role in scaling up and promoting those agricultural innovations with the potential to help bridge the gender gap in African agriculture. Through a call for applications, intensive bootcamp, and an AgTech solutions market place that connects entrepreneurs to investors, technical experts (including leading agricultural scientists), and other potential partners, GAIA ensures visibility, commercialization and scaling up of gender responsive agribusinesses. GAIA also supports agribusiness investors successfully incorporate a gender lens to their screening processes.
To qualify for the bootcamps, GAIA considers innovative agribusinesses that:
Scaling up AgTech innovations that help bridge the gender gap in Africa’s agriculture. A variety of players across the agribusiness sector recognize that the gender gap in African agriculture represents an untapped opportunity. GAIA meets industry needs by spotlighting and supporting a rare pipeline of pre-qualified gender responsive agribusinesses; businesses that purposefully seek to level the playing field for a diversity of men and women across agricultural value chains.
Gender lens to agribusiness investments. By targeting and engaging the key agribusiness sector investors, GAIA builds basic awareness on how to deploy a gender lens to enhance the social impact of agribusiness investments.
Need for gender diversity among those who receive agripreneurship funding. GAIA pays particular attention to female agribusiness entrepreneurs and facilitates connections to increase the funding and support available to women agripreneurs.
A ready pipeline of bankable and scalable AgTech innovations to maintain a competitive edge. From its roots in the agricultural research sector, GAIA offers a database of pre-qualified AgTech business ideas ready for commercialization providing entrerprenurs and investors an opportunity to diversify their pipelines.
Enhancing return on investment by taking innovations beyond proof of concept. Agricultural research is expensive and GAIA ensures that researchers maximize their return on investment by connecting them to entrepreneurs, investors, and agribusiness industry players ready to scale up research outputs.
In 2016 AWARD conducted a GAIA pilot in partnership with the African Development Bank, UN Women, Intellecap, and Centum focused on a call for gender responsive innovations from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. This pilot included a call for applications that attracted over 100 applications, pre-selection that narrowed down to 31 quarter finalists, an entrepreneurship bootcamp, peer evaluation that narrowed down to 10 finalists followed by an investor showcase for the top innovators.
A final pitch contest to a panel of high level judges from industry that identified the top 3 finalists. GAIA is working in partnership with players in the sector to ensure continued support for bootcamp participants.
African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD). Hosted by World Agroforestry Centre, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri. P.O Box 30677-00100 Nairobi, Kenya.
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