Women smallholder farmers comprise of 43% of the labour force in emerging economies. However, their productivity is less than male counterparts because they don’t have equal access to productive resources, training, credit, information, or markets. In light of the problem, a group of agricultural innovators met at the 2017 The Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg, looking to bring women into their value chain of customers to create business and social impact. We were on-boarded as advisors to develop a plan on gender diversity through a well developed plan to engage women in order to increase their market reach and adoption of products.
We had a two-hour session with each innovator to get a sense of their gender inclusivity ratio based on the existing business model, markets served, current numbers and activities undertaken to bring women into their value chain. After a clear assessment of their innovation and model we discussed benefits of gender integration to increase business and market outreach apart from creating social impact. We gave them practical examples of women-focused projects, conducted by us over the years, as proof of our thought process. We also made practical recommendations and suggestions to integrate women into their business model as both customers and important stakeholders in the agriculture value chain. For instance, we suggested working with women self-help groups to evangelise their products.
This project demonstrated that innovators can reach untapped markets of women farmers for better business and social impact. It also captured practical methods and strategies to engage women in a playbook which is now valuable information for the ecosystem at large. Through our mentorship we were able to change the mindset of innovators. They now saw women as potential customers since they form an integral part of the household structure working on farms, therefore playing an important role in decision making as well. We had a high number of entrepreneurs who came forth to understand actionable steps to achieve this goal. They eventually added more women into their sales force which led to trust and increased adoption of products.
● 14 innovators
● Countries covered: India, Jordan, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Mozambique, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Vietnam
● Entrepreneurs brought more women into their sales force
● Practical marketing methodology documented in a playbook as knowledge capital for ecosystem