African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a career-development program that since 2008 has, through tailored fellowships, equipped top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their science and leadership skills.
The agriculture sector still remains the largest employer of African women. However, it is still a major driver of gender inequality on the continent as evidenced by the gender gap in both productivity and rural wages. With the realization that agribusiness incubation can play a critical role in scaling up and promoting agricultural innovations with the potential to help bridge the gender gap in African agriculture, in 2016 AWARD asked us to help them design an initiative that would connect entrepreneurs to investors, technical experts and other potential partners to commercialize and scale up gender responsive agribusinesses.
We supported AWARD to develop a concept note for a new initiative – Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa (GAIA) – to address this identified gap in Africa. We pitched GAIA to potential funders including the (then) Vice President and Special Envoy on Gender at the African Development Bank (AfDB), UN Women and to Centum, a leading investment company in East Africa to garner their support. We also organized the First East Africa Call for Ag-Tech Innovations for Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. This included evaluating submitted innovations, selecting and inviting the top 20 applicants to Nairobi for the first GAIA Ag-tech Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, and Investor Showcase. We subsequently followed up with AfDB on opportunities for the three top agripreneurs.
Our strategic advice and support resulted in the development and implementation of a new innovative initiative that is scaling up gender responsive agribusiness initiatives in Africa
Our strategic advice, concept development and implementation support expertise led to the successful development of GAIA which contributed to building positive visibility for our client and in resource mobilization efforts. We supported AWARD in organizing the First East Africa Call for Ag-tech innovations and a successful boot camp and investor show case in Nairobi. We were also able to organize participation for the three top agripreneurs in a joint investor showcase organized by ADB and the European Investment Bank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. One top participant won USD 10,000 for her business. Our initial work in East Africa bore fruit and supported our client in getting additional funding for other pilots in Southern Africa, West and Northern Africa in 2017.