It goes without saying, women’s economic empowerment is essential for inclusive growth in Africa, whereas for the continent’s economies agriculture remains by far the most critical sector. Yet, women continue to be underrepresented in decision-making processes, business and policy fora. This is also true for higher-income value chain segments like agri-processing, packaging or agri-haulage.
Agribusiness training focusing entirely on production and business planning has not brought about the desired impact in Africa’s agricultural sector. Previous training approaches haven’t taken into account the realities of half of the agriculture workforce — which is the reality women are faced with since they constitute 50 percent of the labour!
Typically at the training centre level, women receive a course completion certificate but that alone certainly doesn’t empower them. Training is business forward but it won’t promote gender transformation. The result is a long list of underperforming businesses, and even new ventures struggle with it.
What is Gender makes Business Sense?
Gender makes Business Sense opens up the possibility of equal representation of women in the agribusiness sector. The ultimate purpose is to improve the situation of the agripreneurs and their communities by creating thriving and profitable agribusinesses that unlock employment opportunities.
Gender makes Business Sense is a practical capacity development journey for agripreneurs that enhances their understanding of business plus an integrated gender dimension to thrive with a new mindset.
The Gender makes Business Sense journey shows how a collaborative approach between women, men, public and private sectors, and the community can systematically redress the gender imbalances in all agribusiness value chain segments.
Participants of the course — both women and men — get equipped with practical business management skills, financial know-how and an understanding of the socio-economic impact of gender dynamics in their business. Through the experiential learning approach, agripreneurs start to make more inclusive business decisions that are collaborative, cost-efficient and strategic. Women in particular benefit from this training because it creates a safe environment for them to express their innovative business ideas and challenges alike. Thus gaining insights that will increase income and share of profit.
Facilitators and mentors of the course connect with the realities of the agripreneurs and, as such, confront their own gender biases and learn to combine business development skills, gender empowerment, and self-awareness in their facilitation approach. By enacting mindset shifts and facilitating women’s self-empowerment, they access their decision-making power over their agribusiness, control the use of income, and exercise a leadership role in their communities.
Why is the initiative transformative?
Gender makes Business Sense is based on human-centred design and anchored in a holistic process that explores business development skills and mindset, culture, and belief systems regarding gender. As such, it brings about sustainable change in gender relations that is irreversible.
How does it work?
Locally trained facilitators and mentors create an enabling environment that recognises gender-based constraints and opportunities. Since the facilitators are mindful of local realities, they can assess with the agripreneurs their needs and co-develop a realistic growth plan. They achieve this through conversations that address the intersection of their gender empowerment issues and a business growth mindset.
The stages of the iterative journey
- 12 days online/offline briefing and capacity development of facilitators and mentors
- 7 days gender business development training of the agripreneurs, through interactive group training (modular learning plan, game boards, group questions and sharing)
- 3-months mentorship and co-creation ongoing cycle of support and development (development of agribusiness growth plans, monitoring and evaluation and documentation of impact)
Before the training, it is important to get the buy-in of institutions and national ministries by signing agreements based on mutual interest in and cooperation during the training. This stage is open-ended and can take several months. Gender makes Business Sense training outcomes create a network for ongoing improvement and learning supported and owned by respective country partners.
Gender makes Business Sense was developed jointly by the projects Agricultural Technical Vocational Education and Training for Women (ATVET4W) and Employment for Development and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D). The capacity development approach is currently being rolled out in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and South Africa, with Benin, Burkina Faso and Togo to follow.
Additional information and contact
Interested in using Gender makes Business Sense in your project as an impactful contribution to women’s social and economic empowerment? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.