Think and act for entrepreneurship in Africa

Insights

The articles in this category allow the audience to have a better understanding of different topics related to African entrepreneurship: the economic or political context, social issues, etc.

African SMEs have potential to be at the forefront of tomorrow’s digital world

  For over 15 years I’ve been helping companies on the continent with their digital strategies, and I firmly believe in the potential of African SMEs to be at the…

 

For over 15 years I’ve been helping companies on the continent with their digital strategies, and I firmly believe in the potential of African SMEs to be at the cutting edge of tomorrow’s digital world.

And here is why

First, because there is a technology gap

When it comes to digital in Africa, the reality today is that usage is still limited. Only 36% of the African population was connected in January 2023. Technological progress is held back by structural constraints (lack of infrastructure, poor Internet connectivity, weak electricity networks), as well as societal issues (limited purchasing power, populations far removed from the written word, etc.).

But this technological gap is, in many ways, an opportunity.

In fact, we’re seeing that the latest adopters tend to go straight to the most advanced uses. Newcomers to the Internet, for example, will immediately start using artificial intelligence – already via voice recognition on their smartphones – and this will seem normal to them.

This is what we call the Frogleap: a jump that enables African companies to go straight from the craft to the Web 4.0 industry!

 

Secondly, because these companies operate in difficult environments

Political, economic, social, regulatory, environmental: the context is often difficult for African companies – more difficult than elsewhere.

Here again, it’s an opportunity! Because innovation is born of constraint.

After all, why change something that works? Yes, we could do better, but by nature nobody likes change…

This is the main reason why transformation projects in French companies, for example, come up against so many obstacles.

We all know how difficult it is to change established habits. But when faced with a problem or a stumbling block, we’ll do anything to find a solution.

The most obvious example is mobile money, which accounts for over 36 billion transactions in sub-Saharan Africa – compared with just 300 million in Europe and Central Asia (source: GSMA 2021).

Why are these uses struggling to take off in Europe and Central Asia? Because the market is already equipped with bankcards, and while mobile payment brings a plus, it doesn’t respond to a real need.

It’s interesting to see here how these innovations impact the way we measure a country’s level of development – with mobile money, for example, the rate of bank penetration is no longer necessarily as representative …

Finally, African SMEs are often young structures with limited resources.

Surprising as it may seem, this can also be an opportunity for digital.

Indeed, digitalization is no longer so much a question of budget, but more a question of culture.

The rise of “no-code” has democratized access to digitalization for businesses.

Applications such as Notion have enabled companies like Sayna, in Madagascar, to digitize their entire processes without the need for special technical expertise or large budgets.

Social media make it easy to reach a local and international audience.

What’s more, it’s easier for younger and smaller structures to take advantage of digital.

More agile than large groups with established practices, they can evolve their tools and practices to implement new, more appropriate working methods.

This ability to adapt is a real strength in a context of great uncertainty, particularly when it comes to energy and climate issues.

So many reasons for African SMEs to confidently embrace a digital transformation that can be a real lever for development.

However, it’s important to keep in mind:

The human element: Digital must not replace, but rather “augment” the human element. Digital should not be designed for digital’s sake, but to add value. This means improving, simplifying, and streamlining relationships that are first and foremost human, whether within companies or with their customers and partners. In this respect, it’s interesting to see the growing importance of conversational uses in digital interfaces, which are those closest to human interaction (e.g. WhatsApp or ChatGPT).

African specificities: On the one hand, it’s a question of ensuring a better representation of the continent’s realities in the various digital tools. Indeed, the realities proposed online in Google results, on social media, or in image or text productions generated by Artificial Intelligences mirror the content available online – content that is above all American, Asian, European… The aim is to encourage the production of African content so that the continent’s specificities are also taken into account in the future.

On the other hand, while the main digital players today are American or Chinese, we need to ensure that digitalization does not create over-dependent relationships for individual countries. An issue that Africa shares with many other geographies!

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The Health of Young People in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Significant Challenge in the Framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Profile of University of Lomé Students in Togo: Significant Health Requirements, But Challenges for Healthcare Access

Profile of University of Lomé Students in Togo: Significant Health Requirements, But Challenges for Healthcare Access

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An IFC/World Bank Group experiment in mustering the private sector for development

Private financial flows to Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) today are lower than in 2015, when both the UN’s Addis Ababa Agenda for Action and the Paris Agreement were…

Private financial flows to Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) today are lower than in 2015, when both the UN’s Addis Ababa Agenda for Action and the Paris Agreement were adopted—committing the world to financing the SDGs and reducing carbon emissions. Were the expectations simply unrealistic? How can we hope to measure up to the challenge of our generation?

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In Mali, a company specializing in shea butter sets an example for the continent

Jérémie Malbrancke and Simbala Sylla look back at the story of Mali Shi, a Malian company founded in 2019 and the first industrial shea processor in the country. The story…

Jérémie Malbrancke and Simbala Sylla look back at the story of Mali Shi, a Malian company founded in 2019 and the first industrial shea processor in the country. The story of a committed and determined company, which allows the development of a sector creating thousands of jobs and enhancing local resources.

Mali is slowly regaining its commercial and financial standing in West Africa since the lifting of ECOWAS sanctions in July. Following the seizure of power by Assimi Goïta’s junta, the organization of West African states had imposed, along with its members, the closure of borders, the suspension of commercial and financial exchanges and the freezing of assets at the Central Bank.

In this favorable context, the Mali Shi factory, the first industrial shea nut processing unit in Mali, can resume its development trajectory. Before the installation of this plant, Mali, the world’s second largest producer of shea nuts with 250,000 tons per year, behind Nigeria, was in the absurd situation of having all of its production shipped in raw form to Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Ghana, which in turn export almonds and butter to Europe.

In total, the world market drains between 400,000 and 500,000 tons of butter per year, representing about twice as many raw nuts. More than 85% of shea butter is used in the food industry, mainly to replace part of the cheaper cocoa butter in the manufacture of chocolate. This is a growing market and a real boon for Mali for a number of reasons.

First, because this activity relies primarily on women. In southern Mali, they are the ones who harvest the shea nuts at the end of the rainy season. After two years of activity, Mali Shi is working with about sixty cooperatives and already 26,000 women in the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro, Ségou and Sikasso. The goal is to eventually work with 120,000 women at full capacity. The factory, which employs 97 people, has purchased 1,600 tons of nuts in 2020, and 7,700 tons in 2021, and is targeting 30,000 tons within two years.

A windfall also because Mali Shi’s activities have resulted in a large number of positive social impacts. The factory has financed the establishment of unions, in partnership with the World Bank, UN Women and the Global Shea Alliance. These bodies have made it possible to organize the constitutive assemblies of the cooperatives in the villages, to accompany the organizations in the procedures of legal formalization with the authorities, to disseminate good practices of collection, production and storage… but also to train leaders in accounting management, marketing and commercial negotiation. In some areas, this support has enabled a seven-fold increase in the volume of nuts harvested from one year to the next.

For Mali Shi, the challenge now is to ensure the continuity of supply in quantity and quality, in close cooperation with the communities. Mali Shi has a dedicated supply team, consisting of area managers and field agents who work closely with the women and their organizations. To secure the supply chain, contracts are signed with all partner production organizations, agreeing on fixed quantities and prices. This is often the only sustainable source of income for the women partners of the factory. Finally, Mali Shi maintains links with its suppliers even outside of purchasing campaigns, through training on good practices for collecting and preserving the nuts, for example, or awareness-raising activities on the maintenance of the shea tree park.

The positive effects are also due to the recycling of production waste. In the transformation process, the nuts are heated and pressed. On the one hand, vegetable oil – commonly known as shea butter because it is solid at room temperature – is obtained. On the other side, the residues of the nuts, the oil cakes, are obtained. This useful “waste” is reused in the factory’s boiler and distributed to the women as fuel for post-collection processing. Nothing is lost, everything is transformed!

The story of Mali Shi demonstrates the emergence of a new economic reality in Africa: determined local entrepreneurs can overcome huge obstacles to develop industries that contribute to creating thousands of jobs by valorizing locally available resources. The funding required, in the order of a few million euros – compared to the budget of certain programs run by international development institutions – proves that small amounts of money, well invested, can have a considerable impact over the long term.

There is no shortage of opportunities in Africa, including in landlocked countries with a reputation for instability like Mali. As everywhere else, to succeed it is necessary to be pragmatic in the approach and vision of the projects undertaken and to surround oneself with the right skills. Let’s hope that Mali Shi inspires other entrepreneurial success stories elsewhere on the continent!

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Plastic waste in Africa: from fatality to opportunities?

While the regulatory battle against plastic bags has seen notable successes in Africa, where 34 out of 54 countries have banned their use, these victories should not be the tree…

While the regulatory battle against plastic bags has seen notable successes in Africa, where 34 out of 54 countries have banned their use, these victories should not be the tree that hides the forest. Plastic bags are certainly the most visible form of plastic pollution, but they are far from being the only source. It is also important to be realistic: plastic use is not about to decrease, nor is its production. Indeed, the production of plastic could triple by 2050, at a time when their harmful effects on health and the environment are the subject of increased vigilance.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Africa, which is becoming one of the outlets for the rest of the world’s plastic waste, not to mention locally generated waste. The difficulty of recycling and recovering plastic waste that accumulates in open dumps should be a priority for policy makers and industry.

As the UN lays the groundwork for a treaty to address the issue of plastic waste, it is urgent for Africa to find solutions that do not only aim at the total disappearance of plastic packaging but also at developing alternative ways of producing 100% biodegradable or recyclable plastics, as well as collection and recycling services.

Let’s recall that plastic does not only have negative effects. For example, we must distinguish between polluting and recyclable plastics… Among the most obvious advantages, plastic packaging has made it possible to considerably increase the shelf life of fresh food. Without adequate packaging, it would not be possible to transport meat, liquids, and many preparations to the cities and the most remote areas of the continent. Plastic is lighter and stronger than glass, and more malleable than metal. It is an excellent insulator, waterproof, and can be shaped into an infinite number of sizes, thicknesses, and shapes. If this material is so ubiquitous today, it is because it has demonstrated benefits that no other material has.

The question is not so much how to get rid of plastics as how to reason about their use, transform their production and management in order to make them recyclable and, as much as possible, find new sources (other than oil…) to produce them.

Already, many initiatives are emerging on the African continent to recover the plastic waste that can be recycled: reuse of waste to make building bricks or public garbage cans, or individual collection of recyclable waste to sell to factories specializing in their transformation.

But these initiatives will not trigger a mass movement on the scale of African national economies if real circuits of production of 100% recyclable plastics, collection and recycling are not put in place. These circuits exist for glass, nothing prevents us from imagining that the plastic value chain could be inspired by them.

As with metals and glass, the recycling of plastic waste has an economic justification, and technical solutions already exist (PET plastics) or are under development (bioplastics based on algae, fungi, or synthesized by bacteria). The success of each of these methods will depend in particular on their ability to be integrated into a wider cycle of reuse: either to produce biogas, or as an agricultural input, or as a recyclable product in the same form.

The turnaround can be made by bringing together researchers, engineers, public decision-makers, industrialists, users, and all those who, today informally, tomorrow perhaps as employees, make a living from the recovery of plastic waste and have therefore developed expertise in their sorting, collection, marketing, and recovery.

The Moringa Fund is working with its portfolio companies on this project, through the Moringa/ATAF project and the consulting firm The Right Packaging*. The avenues of reflection currently being developed focus on controlling the collection of water bottles and their recycling, and the use of high-pressure decontamination processes in tanks rather than in fruit juice packaging – which makes it possible to use materials other than plastic (cardboard, glass, cans). For dried fruit, the aim is to favor bulk sales as well as the use of single-material flexible packaging allowing for recycling. These avenues are being explored in particular by the Moringa portfolio companies in Mali and Benin.

The market for plastic waste treatment holds huge potential profits, even outside the continent’s borders. Plastic production in Europe is already running out of materials to recycle, and a waste reprocessing industry in Africa could find a secondary market to finance its development. Eventually, plastic could become a coveted raw material… 

Bringing together environmental, economic and commercial interests with scientific innovation could finally be the happy and unexpected consequence of solutions to the plastic waste issue in Africa.

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Financing African agriculture: how to break the deadlock?

Agriculture is at the heart of the issues of economic growth, political stability, and the fight against climate change in Africa, is an observation which is widely recognized. However, even…

Agriculture is at the heart of the issues of economic growth, political stability, and the fight against climate change in Africa, is an observation which is widely recognized. However, even today, the funds mobilized by African governments for food and agriculture fall short of the targets set. While the FAO estimates that 10% of African national budgets should be dedicated to these sectors in order to achieve economic and social development, in reality these sectors’ budgets are generally too low, poorly spent, and inefficient (FAO, 2021). The fact that such an essential sector remains a victim of chronic under-investment demonstrates the extreme complexity of the challenge facing Africa. The urgency of improving financing for African agriculture is widely recognized, but implementation has been stubbornly lacking.

So, the sector is still marked by the failure of the various state banks created in many African countries to finance the development of the agricultural sector. As for traditional banks, they are often reluctant to direct their financing products towards agricultural actors which are perceived as too risky, too informal, and too fragmented.

Yet, banks have an essential role to play in the future of African agriculture. How can we learn from the mistakes of the past and propose solutions adapted to the financing of African agriculture?

 

Participating in a learning and exchange process

The analysis of agricultural value chains makes it possible to understand the sectors in their entirety. Each flow can be analyzed at the different stages of the chain: production, collection, processing, transport, distribution, equipment, supply, etc, thus breaking the misconception that financing the agricultural sector means financing only the producers.

This value chain analysis approach is linked to necessary on-site visits to meet agricultural entrepreneurs, and deconstruct preconceived ideas. For example, one of the commonly accepted assumptions was that the main criterion for choosing a loan was its cost (price sensitivity of agricultural entrepreneurs). In interviews with entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector in Senegal, it was found that the main criterion for them was the responsiveness of the banking institution, rather than the interest rate, mainly because of seasonality constraints.

 

The importance of proximity and dedicated human resources

The first risk management lever is the training of human resources (business managers and credit managers): this involves putting the credit manager at the heart of the process of identifying the risks related to a sector or an actor.

In addition to this training, there must be closer geographic proximity to the agricultural production areas. A commercial presence in direct contact with the ecosystem of a sector allows a better assessment of the risks. For example, Cofina decided to open a branch in the Niayes region of Senegal in order to be close to the market gardening area: this allows both a better marketing approach and a better knowledge of the risks linked to the crops in the area.

 

Targeting actors better to “secure” funding

In order to manage risk, a financing institution may favor actors with the best quality image in the value chain. These are generally larger and more formal players: aggregators, traders, processors, etc. A bank can also “move down or up” the value chain towards actors perceived as riskier (less risky ??).

The bank can also identify financing instruments where the quality image of a dominant player acts as a security for the bank’ in order to finance the downstream or upstream part of the chain: for example via an advance on an invoice. In this “entry point approach,” risk management is embedded in different time phases: my customer’s business partners today are my customers tomorrow.

Finally, the mobilization of African banks towards the financing of local agriculture will be possible as long as they have access to long-term liquidity. In this context, international donors or impact funds have a key role to play in giving local banks the means to effectively finance agricultural sectors via “earmarked funds” for agriculture.

In addition to this catalytic role, donors can partly address the risks posed by weak collateral and poor-quality assets that characterize some actors in the agricultural value chains. This is made possible by mobilizing risk-sharing funds, concessional financing, or guarantee funds.

Through targeted grants, development agencies can also facilitate the process of analyzing value chains, identifying potential targets, and creating attractive pipelines.

 

Learning, proximity, and risk management

The hundreds of billions missing for the financing of African agriculture can be seen in two different ways: either it is a symptom of a sector that cannot be financed by banks, leaving this function to public programs, international donors or a few microfinance institutions… or it is a sign that there is a huge field of unexplored opportunities.

As committed supporters of the growth of African SMEs, Cofina and classM fully subscribe to the second option. We are convinced that an approach based on learning from past mistakes, proximity to the actors, and better risk management will allow the development of the potential of African agriculture.

 

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Innovative Investments Empower Women

This article was co-written by Ksapa and Investisseurs & Partenaires, and is also published on their website. The gender question is at the heart of the international debate. The eradication…

This article was co-written by Ksapa and Investisseurs & Partenaires, and is also published on their website.

The gender question is at the heart of the international debate. The eradication of discrimination against women and girls, the women’s empowerment and the parity between women and men are considered as key factors of development, respect of human rights, peace and world security. The Sustainable Development Goals have reaffirmed the key role of women’s empowerment in the democratic process, in order to take the necessary decisions on all aspects of sustainable development.

As such, Ksapa approached Investisseurs & Partenaires, a specialist in impact investing across the African continent, to discuss the implications of gender empowerment for the private sector. Together, we examine key figures on the challenges of gender empowerment, demonstrating its prevalence in rural areas of the African continent. Under the current conditions, how they can businesses and investors embed a solid gender perspective as part of their impact strategies to better address the challenges of the gender empowerment. Based on different initiatives led by Ksapa and I&P, we infer practical recommendations for mobilizing capital in favor of gender empowerment.

1. Key Issues in Gender Empowerment 

Gender empowerment implies, in essence, the equitable distribution of resources between men and women – as well as girls and boys. That is, in principle. In practice, gender empowerment may clash with deeply entrenched social attitudes – themselves translating into equally structural social, economic and cultural decisions.

  • Structural Disparities Between Men And Women

Men and women just like boys and girls are indeed not equal in the face of poverty and in their access to opportunities. Even less so in the context of interwoven climate, health and socioeconomic crises. Women account for less than a third of available human capital wealth in low and lower-middle-income countries. In South Asia, losses due to gender inequality are estimated at $9.1 trillion, compared to $6.7 trillion in Latin America and the Caribbean and $3.1 trillion in the Middle East and North Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, they amount to $2.5 trillion. As such, the OECD publishes the social institutions and gender equality index, designed to measure, discrimination against women in social institutions at the international level. For example, in 2019, this index was 37.0 in Senegal, 42.8 in Côte d’Ivoire and 34.5 in Ghana.

  • Socio-Economic Impacts of Gender Empowerment

Despite heavy stigma, women now control 32% of the world’s wealth and generate an additional $5 trillion each year – at a much faster rate than in the past. In addition, for every dollar of investment raised, women-owned startups generate $0.78 in revenue, compared to $0.31 for male-led companies. As a result, gender parity in the workforce could generate a 26% increase in annual global GDP by 2025.

  • Zeroing in on Women in the African Agricultural Sector

Agriculture accounts for nearly 25% of Africa’s gross domestic product. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, women make up nearly half of the workforce in this sector.

Across the continent, agriculture is the largest employer of women, accounting for 62% of the female workforce. In certain countries like Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso, more than 90% of women work the land.

Female farmers’ work in Africa as elsewhere is subject to critical disparities – notably in terms of the division of labor and prevalence of informal work. In African agriculture, women tend to opt for specific crops and techniques and their work is not equally rewarded. When their work is in fact subject to a formal contract, the latter does not necessarily bear their name, often in favor of their husbands. Similarly, female farmers tend to be involved in local markets and retail trade, where men are generally more involved in wholesale trade, with a region-wide scope.

2. Embedding a Strong Robust Gender Perspective in Impact Investment Strategies 

Poverty alleviation and food security depend directly on the development of systematic solutions for gender empowerment. The African agricultural sector’s capacity to nurture stable livelihoods hinges on innovative measures designed to foster farmers’ access to land, capital and means of production – especially where women are concerned.

That is precisely why the World Bank developed a gender strategy for international project developers. The document lists 4 key levers to reduce gender gaps:

  • Awareness-Raising: Improve gender gaps by reducing access differentials in health, education and social protection (e.g. school/work transitions, gender stereotypes in the workplace, sexual and reproductive health rights…).
  • Opportunity: Remove barriers to further and better employment, boosting women’s participation, their opportunities to generate their own income and access to productive assets (keeping in mind key considerations of the burden of care, access to mobility and formal employment…).
  • Empowerment: Strengthen women’s voice and empower them by encouraging men and boys to share decision-making processes around delivering services, reducing gender-based violence and managing potentially conflictual situations.
  • Property: Remove barriers to women’s ownership and control of property, effectively improving their access to land, housing and technology.

Based on this strategy, investors – and development teams in particular – are encouraged to consider the means to engage with their potentially impacted stakeholders. That way, they may indeed better identify and assess concrete gender gaps; a series of efforts ultimately encompassed in a gender action plan.

3. Practical Examples of Capital Mobilization in Favour of Gender Empowerment 

  • Introducing 3 Agricultural Businesses Supported By I&P

For the last two decades, Investisseurs & Partenaires has committed to financing and supporting the emergence of African entrepreneurship champions. As an impact investor, I&P seeks a positive social and/or environmental return in addition to a significant financial performance, the impact of which is measured through a continuous evaluation process.

This approach is applied both in selecting potential investees and in the support afforded to the selected companies. It is also characterized by the Group’s emphasis on measuring investees’ social and/or environmental impact, based on priority objectives and progress monitoring methods against the projected positive impacts.

As part of its gender strategy in particular, I&P actively seeks to develop a pipeline of small and medium enterprises, either managed by women or with a major impact for women. I&P therefore systematically includes gender-specific action plans in its portfolio companies’ ESG action plans (with increase targets on the number of female employees, access to management positions, specific training, etc.). As such, 33% of the companies supported by I&P are managed by women.

Similarly, 79% of I&P’s portfolio meets at least one of the criteria of the 2X Challenge, an initiative of development banks to define what would be considered a women-friendly investment.

Within the I&P portfolio, the three following companies illustrate how a gender perspective can be developed and adapted to the agriculture sector:

    • Soafiary (Madagascar): Founded in 2006 by Malagasy promoter Malala Rabenoro, Soafiary specializes in the collection, processing and sale of cereals (corn, rice) and legumes (beans, cape peas, lentils, soybeans) on the local and international market.
    • Citrine (Côte d’Ivoire): Citrine Corporation processes and transforms cassava into fresh attiéké (cassava semolina) and placali (cassava paste) in southern Côte d’Ivoire and more specifically in Grand-Bassam.
    • Rose Eclat (Burkina Faso): Rose Eclat is a family business launched in 1999 by Rosemonde Touré. A fruit and vegetable processing company, the company markets nationally and internationally processed and/or dried fruits and vegetables. It produces mainly mango but also bananas, okra, strawberries and onions – which are certified organic and comply with the food safety management system (HACCP).
  • Commonalities and specificities of I&P Investees

Emblematic of I&P’s work on gender empowerment in the agriculture sector, all three companies are committed gender equality and empowerment. Soafiary in particular translated this policy into a roadmap that encapsulates its commitments to gender equality and empowerment. This written document indeed outlines the company’s gender policy, as a concrete tool to monitor– both internally and externally – progress made and measures implemented by the company to foster gender equality.

All three companies prioritize the recruitment of women for seasonal jobs and do not apply any form of gender discrimination in recruiting for permanent jobs. Women are also involved in the corporate decision-making processes and hold various positions of responsibility. As a result, men and women have equal opportunities for career advancement, either by tapping into permanent or seasonal employment – all of this with comparable pay. Women also benefit from on-the-job training. Rose Eclat additionally gives women the opportunity to train outside the company for career advancement or to become self-employed.

The three companies also emphasize women’s physical and moral integrity in and outside of the workplace, ensuring they can access healthcare and social protection. Soafiary also set up a financial inclusion and banking system specific to women. Access to financial products and services allows women to anticipate the financing of their long and medium-term goals or to face unexpected events. Moreover, savings begets credit and vice versa.

  • Shared Perspectives with Ksapa’s SUTTI Initiative

Echoing I&P’s focus on training, Ksapa launched the Scale-up Training, Traceability, Impact initiative (SUTTI) for the development of responsible agricultural supply chains. Through this new platform, smallholders can access technical and operational training and education. The goal is optimize their crop and agricultural economic production, improve the quality of their livelihoods by increasing their income, diversifying activities and reducing poverty. Not only does this foster gender parity, it is also key to retain young farmers in rural areas.

Through the development of our own digital application, we combine analysis and evaluation, coalition structuring and pilot calibration, program implementation and impact monitoring. That is indeed how Ksapa measures SUTTI impacts and its contributions to gender empowerment in particular, in the form of their inclusion into the program. Through training, SUTTI supports gender empowerment, opening up the conventional division of labor and women’s potential to sell and manage the product of their labor and operate diversified income activities.

Because women bear the brunt of lacking financial inclusion, literacy and digital literacy, the SUTTI solution targets optimal accessibility for women. The program indeed focuses on diversifying smallholders’ income, thereby developing additional leverage for gender empowerment in agricultural areas.

In short, this approach aims to unlock the following 4 key challenges:

CORE ISSUES  RELEVANT SOLUTIONS
Low productivity tied to lacking access to information and services as well as climate change, major weather variability and pest and disease outbreaks  Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Awareness: Deliver face-to-face and digital sessions to support smallholders’ income generation through crop diversification, water efficiency and perhaps carbon credits. Through a digital application, videos and tutorials can indeed be shared that support practical tests and the direct implementation of GAPs across the farm. Decision support tools: digital apps can include a community chat feature that allows smallholders to share questions and decide how best to implement GAP. A marketplace function offers smallholders the opportunity to share price/volume information and decide just where and when to sell. Overcoming language and digital literacy barriers: Tailoring solutions to the needs of smallholders involves translating content into local languages and perhaps including a text-to-speech feature for the benefit of less literate farmers.
Lack of access  to appropriate financial/insurance products Develop financial solutions for smallholders, paid for example with tokens issued through a carbon offset system.
Women’s lacking access to digital services  Organize women-specific training groups (e.g., recruit 1 all-female cohort for every 3) to identify and meet the particular needs of female farmers. Adapt content accordingly (e.g., including gender perspectives, especially targeting on-farm health and safety training content).
Smallholders lacking access and ability to select markets and sales methods  Structure a supply of inputs to smallholders, paid for instance via  carbon offsets and revenue from a gamification tool – encouraging them to regularly fill-out impact monitoring questionnaires. Boost market access by supporting year-round crop diversification outside the production cycle of farmers’ main crop. Strengthen decision support tools – allowing smallholders to identify new marketing channels, track their transactions and identify the best options for buying/selling their crops

Conclusion

At the helm of their respective impact programs, I&P and Ksapa outline the following commonalities in their integration of a robust strong gender perspective as part of the impact investment strategies:

  • Prioritize gender empowerment in designing agricultural development projects; 
  • Identify the agricultural sector’s direct and indirect contributions to gender dynamics;  
  • Clarify the roles and responsibilities in developing a robust gender perspective; 
  • Allocate specific resources to empowering female farmers; 
  • Develop stakeholder engagement and grievance mechanisms specific to female farmers. 
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Start-up Business Acceleration Programs: What does the academic literature say?

For several years now, start-up business acceleration programs have been created all over the world, particularly in Africa. These initiatives are designed to support start-up businesses which have shown that…

For several years now, start-up business acceleration programs have been created all over the world, particularly in Africa. These initiatives are designed to support start-up businesses which have shown that they have a viable model and which want to grow their business. What Does the Academic Literature Say?

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