Supporting women agri-entrepreneurs in Southern Africa
With support from its partners (the European Union (EU), Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the Agence Francaise Development (AFD) and the International Food and Agriculture Development (IFAD)) through the SFOAP as well as We Effect, the Southern Africa Confederation of Agricultural Union organized training for women agri-entrepreneurs in the region. The training was organized as part of the series of SACAU’s annual women fora, initiated in 2013, and was organized against the backdrop that women farmers in the region face more severe constraints than their male counterparts in a number of areas including skills in starting and growing their businesses (more information on the last 2015 forum is available here). A study that was conducted in 2013 by SACAU identified “inadequate business skills” as one of the major challenges faced by women in the agricultural sector.
The two and half day training (27-29 September 2016) took place in Johannesburg, South Africa and was attended by 40 women agri-entrepreneurs from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Swaziland, Seychelles, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Out of the forty participants, eleven were young women entrepreneurs and four were gender officers from We Effect partner organizations. The training was conducted by three professionals from RT Foundation. In addition to lectures and discussions, participants visited the Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market where they appreciated the operations of an effective fresh produce market.
To make the process as practical as possible, participants selected hypothetical businesses to work on. This was important considering the fact that participants were drawn from different backgrounds, particularly in terms of the stages of their business development and scale of operations. Thus, trainers designed the training in the manner that took the entrepreneurs through the various stages of business conceptualisation, design, operation and consolidation. Participants were taken through business development stages in a manner that enabled them to appreciate how to turn ideas into business. This approach had an impact in the sense that:
- Participants were able to come up with business ideas and appropriate business development choices that could be developed into real businesses;
- It enhanced the capacities of the participants in pursuing their business ideas with confidence through evidence-based formal and informal insights;
- It enhanced the understanding of women on techniques of incorporating problem-solving strategies in their business development as well as operational processes;
- Participants were equipped with entrepreneurial and business development team-building skills; and
- Participants’ skills on entrepreneurship in business development such as marketing, branding, networking and partnership development were enhanced.
The facilitators worked very well together and delivered training in a simplified manner. The learners understood the tools which were presented with ease and provided good feedback on the training and how it equipped them with skills on how to run their farming operations as businesses.
To learn more, please download the report from the training below.
Photo credit: SACAU