Investing in women agri-entrepreneurs

  • 12th June 2017
  • by secretary

Organised by: CTA, PAFO, Agricord

Today, women in Africa are largely restricted to the type of microfinance that is typical of development programmes. The experience of Ugandan entrepreneur Lovin Kobusingye has shown that with persistence and drive, African women’s agri-businesses can thrive. When Kobusingye was refused bank credit – despite a surge in orders following her appearances in the Ugandan press and on national TV – she received the fresh fish she needed for her processed fish ‘sausages’ on credit from her poor farmers’ suppliers and paid them out of the proceeds of the sales. Her company now exports products across Africa, trades with Lebanon and is exploring ways to enter European and US markets.

The European Investment Bank is among the international financial institutions that are trying to

strengthen the business environment for women like Kobusingye, with new credit structures that will allow entrepreneurs to get enough large-scale loans for them to launch small and medium-sized enterprises or grow bigger corporations.

Two Kenyan women, for example, have developed a phone-based credit score and lending system. The She Trades initiative focuses on seven areas critical to the expansion of women-owned enterprises in Africa, helping women farmers to escape from their traditional roles in low-paid primary production. 

Comprehensive data collection on agri-businesses is seen as a first step to bring government and scientific partners together to diversify crops, increase output and promote value-adding activities such as food processing and exporting.

  • Michael Hailu, Director CTA
  • Vanessa Erogbogbo, Head of Women and Trade Programme, International Trade Centre (see below video)
  • Heike Ruettgers, Head of Mandates Management, European Investment Bank
    In her presentation Heike refers to FarmDrive (Kenya) which is transforming how smallholder farmers access financial services and she also refers to Boost Africa: empowering young African entrepreneurs (see below audio + video)
    In her answer to a question Heike @1:11:30 says
    “We have to showcase what is bankable”
    “It is crucial to have a network in Africa about those innovative ideas which are happening in one place but there may have a technical solution in another place”
    “It needs more joint efforts to demonstrate such success cases”
    “Financial intermediaries need to be associated to this”
  • Lovin Kobusingye, Managing Director, Kati Farms Ltd
    Kobusingye’s humour and determination made her success story a pleasure to hear. Her practicality and can-do approach to problem solving overcame every obstacle.
    See also 
    CTA – Brussels Briefings Videos – Lovin Kobusingye – Managing Director, Kati Farms Uganda – Women entrepreneurs – key players in ACP agribusiness development
    “I have not found in this whole EDD market a supplier of sausage casings… Imagine how difficult it is to find in in Africa”
  • Marie-Joseph Medzeme Engama, Chargée de Programmes de Développement des Chaînes de Valeur agricole, Plateforme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale
  • Fatma Ben Rejeb, CEO PAFO (Organisation panafricaine des agriculteurs)
    “PAFO will organise business fora, among others on energy and processing food”
Questions among others from

  • Energy for impact. For businesses to grow and markets to expand, certain resources need to be in place, and in much of the developing world they are hard to come by: technology, skills, delivery networks and capital. The activities of Energy for impact are designed to help businesses overcome these gaps, and so to flourish, build markets and expand energy access in the form of energy-efficient cookstoves, briquettes, solar lighting and home systems, biogas and mini-grid electrification.
  • Practical Action. Practical Action uses low cost, appropriate, small-scale development solutions to help people to help themselves

Related: ‘Africa Tech Ventures’ – a venture fund focused on investing in and accelerating the growth of disruptive tech-enabled startups and businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa.