Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa

Agriculture as Driver of Economic Growth

If women worldwide had the same access to productive agricultural resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20–30% and raise total agricultural output by 2.5–4%. The gains in agricultural production alone could lift 100 to 150 million people out of hunger, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate . In Africa, the United Nations estimates that gender inequality costs the continent US$ 95 billion every year.

Agriculture is key to gender equality on the continent as the sector remains the largest employer of African women with 62% of economically active women employed in agriculture and over 90% of economically active women in Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso employed in the sector. Still, depending on the country, the rural wage gap between men and women in Africa is estimated at between 15-60% . Productivity on womens' farms is significantly lower per hectare compared to men, ranging from 13% less in Uganda to 25% less in Malawi.

Without concerted effort, ongoing efforts to increase the productivity of African agriculture risk exacerbating already existing gender inequality and leaving African women worse off. However, with proper attention, agricultural growth could be the lever to unlock inclusive, agriculture-driven prosperity for the continent.

About GAIA

Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa (GAIA) is an initiative of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) focused on increasing agribusiness investments in technological and business model innovations with the potential to help close the gender gap in African agriculture.

Through a call for applications, intensive boot camp, and an AgTech solutions market place that connects innovators with private sector, GAIA ensures visibility, commercialization and scaling up of agricultural research innovations (AgTech) that respond to the particular needs and priorities of women across agricultural value chains, with a particular focus on innovations by African women innovators. GAIA also brings a gender lens to the ongoing focus on mitigating major constraints in African agriculture including closing yield gaps in crop and livestock value chains, reducing postharvest losses and improving agri-market efficiencies.

GAIA considers innovations that:

  • Serve the agriculture or allied sectors;
  • Demonstrate clear benefits to women smallholder farmers and other women value chain actors;
  • Have an innovative technology or business model;
  • Have a clear for-profit business model with high potential for scale;
  • Have some proof of concept on the ground, conducted pilots and are preferably generating revenues;
  • Are seeking funding to commercialize or scale.

GAIA’s Value Proposition

  1. The agribusinesses need scientists and a ready pipeline of bankable and scalable AgTech innovations to maintain a competitive edge. GAIA will offer a database of pre-qualified AgTech business ideas ready for commercialization providing the industry with an opportunity to diversify its product pipeline.
  2. Scaling up AgTech innovations that help bridge the gender gap in Africa’s agriculture. Agribusinesses recognize that the gender gap in African agriculture is an untapped opportunity. GAIA will meet industry needs by providing a rare pipeline of pre-qualified gender responsive AgTech; those innovations that purposefully seek to level the playing field for a diversity of men and women across agricultural value chains.
  3. Gender lens to agribusiness investments. By targeting and engaging the key agribusiness sector actors, GAIA will add value to the agribusiness community by building basic awareness on how to deploy a gender lens in agribusiness investments.
  4. Enhance scientists’ knowledge and appreciation of the science-to-market process. GAIA will ensure that its innovators have a basic understanding of the R&D-to- market process, and are equipped to effectively pitch their innovations, and structure mutually beneficial partnerships with private sector and other downstream actors who can take gender responsive AgTech innovations to scale.
  5. Enhancing return on investment by taking innovations beyond proof of concept. Innovation is expensive and GAIA will, through its AgTech marketplace, ensure that innovators maximize their return on investment in research by connecting their innovations to investors and industry players ready to take their innovations to scale.
  6. Provide AgTech showcase opportunity for African ARD institutions. Through GAIA, teams from African research institutions will be supported to showcase their ARD innovations to potential investors thereby raising the profile of their institutions. By exposing scientists to the kinds of innovations that industry needs, GAIA will contribute towards driving system change and the adoption of an ‘innovation culture’ among African agricultural research institutions.
  7. Need for gender diversity among those who receive agripreneurship funding. GAIA will pay particular attention to women innovators and will facilitate connections that will increase the funding available to women agripreneurs.

2016 GAIA AgTech Innovation Challenge

In 2016 AWARD conducted a GAIA pilot in partnership with the African Development Bank, UN Women, Intellecap, and Centum focused on a call for gender responsive innovations from Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. This pilot included a call for applications that attracted over 100 applications, pre-selection that narrowed down to 31 quarter finalists, an entrepreneurship boot camp, peer evaluation that narrowed down to 10 finalists followed by an investor showcase for the top innovators.

A final pitch contest to a panel of high level judges from industry that identified the top 3 finalists. GAIA will work in partnership with the African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN) and the Centum Foundation to continue incubating these and subsequently identified promising innovations.

Beyond the East Africa pilot, GAIA seeks additional partners to scale its activities in key countries across sub-Saharan Africa. For example, GAIA is exploring partnerships with the African Development Bank through its “Feed Africa” Initiative/Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) – to get gender-responsive agricultural technologies off the shelves and driving positive impact across agricultural value chains.

Meet the 2016 GAIA Innovators