Women are essential contributors to agriculture and the rural economy, as labour and production workers, as drivers of innovations and entrepreneurs, and as owners of farms, input supply stores, service delivery businesses, and export firms. About a third of all global established businesses are women-owned and managed (GEM. Women’s Entrepreneurship 2020/21: Thriving Through Crisis), while women are the main drivers of global food production (UNDP. Gender And Climate Change – Gender, climate change and food security).

Empowering women’s entrepreneurship benefits women, their families, and the overall economy (GAIN. Empowering women throughout the food supply chain). Despite the many challenges they face, women entrepreneurs create and seize opportunities to ensure food security and economic growth, reduce food waste, adapt to climate change, and implement fair, sustainable, and innovative business solutions in the agri-food sectors. Supporting women across the agri-food value chain is key to promoting agriculture and agribusiness and boosting sustainable rural development.

On this year’s International Women’s Rights Day, which has the theme DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, COLEAD – together with the Pan-African Farmers’ Organization (PAFO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) – celebrates the 28 African and 16 Caribbean women farmers and entrepreneurs who have shared their experiences within the PAFO-COLEAD Innovations Series and the IICA-COLEAD Caribbean Agri-food Business Series, respectively.* Representing 55% of all the featured entrepreneurs, these inspiring women agripreneurs have presented some drivers of their innovation and success to a global audience during online sessions. Both series aim at supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide, with a specific focus on Africa and the Caribbean, to seize opportunities in new local, regional, and export markets and strengthen their competitiveness.

Find short presentations of these amazing women entrepreneurs below:

African women agripreneurs                          Caribbean women agripreneurs

Scaling up their impact, transforming the agri-food sector to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and promoting gender equality are key to achieving an enabling environment for rural women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector. More direct support is needed to encourage and strengthen entrepreneurial activities, especially women-led initiatives, and businesses, including through training and skills in business management, marketing, and digital skills along the value chain with an emphasis on growth sectors, green technologies and safe and sustainable farming and agro-processing practices. Many organizations, such as COLEAD, PAFO, and IICA, support farmers’ organizations, cooperatives, and entrepreneurs in skills enhancement (people), business development (profit and employment), and sustainable and green growth (planet), with a specific focus on women. Assistance to improve digital skills to better serve constantly evolving customers’ needs, as well as support to e-commerce and to a more direct relationship with the customer (i.e., social media communication), are also of key importance. Sharing experiences from other countries worldwide creates awareness of the potential of these technologies and enables entrepreneurs to access the support needed to seize the growing digital opportunities.

If you are interested in presenting your company and/or in working with us, contact us at:

* The PAFO-COLEAD Innovations Sessions and the IICA-COLEAD Caribbean Agri-food Business Sessions focus on innovations and successes of African and Caribbean farmer-led businesses and SMEs, respectively. These activities are supported by the Fit For Market Plus program, implemented by the COLEAD within the Framework of Development Cooperation between the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union.

Photo credit: United Nations.