Access to Finance Opens Opportunities for Women in Agribusinesses

Access to Finance Opens Opportunities for Women in Agribusinesses

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Rwanda has registered commendable expansion in the financial sector in the recent past, enabling players in the sector to grow as well. Despite this positive trend, most women continue to miss out, are excluded or underserved. Their worst ordeal is the existence of non-financial barriers like operating in rural settings, low financial literacy and bias towards women as not being bankable enough But there is now hope for women venturing in.

Phoebe Nyirafeza proudly stands at the entrance of her business shop in Karongi

Like most women, Phoebe Nyirafeza, a resident of Karongi District, has faced the lows and highs of succeeding ins usually reserved for men. Faced with the pressure of fending for the family after her husband retired in 2011, Phoebe started a small factory called DAZI that processed maize flour locally known as Kawunga. Maize is abundantly produced in Karongi and this seemed an opportunity to add value to a commodity that was readily available and had market locally She produces a mixture of porridge products, of mixed cereals and cracked corn to feed domestic animals.

However, all was not smooth since her business depended on the quality of yield and seasonal hazards, and this made high quality maize scarce. Being credit-shy worsened her situation, making it hard to raise enough capital to maintain keep her business afloat Suddenly her prominence as a shrewd business woman around Rubengera Sector where she resides started to fade as business went decreased.

“This business has been challenging because I needed money to pay suppliers and to buy the best maize grades, yet prices have shot up,” Nyirafeza says with a frown on her face. The hard fact of seeing her business worth 28 million in capita lgo down was a rude awakening, Opportunity came when Hinga Weze assessed her business, offered training on record keeping, and linked her to INKUNGA Micro- Finance that provided credit worth 106,000,000 million RWF in September2018. “From the first installment of 20 million RWF, I managed to restock raw materials and repair machines. Production has already improved.”

As a USAID/Feed the Future-funded project, HW facilitates farmers to access finance, linking them to financial service providers. This is part of its wider goal of sustainably increasing smallholder farmers’ income, improving the nutritional status of women and children, and increasing the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate. Hinga Weze intends to transform 560,000 smallholder farmers in ten districts.

Phoebe Nyirafeza proudly displays her improved stock in the rented warehouse

By providing technical assistance to lenders to develop farmer-friendly loan products and build capacity for Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs), Hinga Weze has enabled agribusinesses to thrive. In Karongi alone, 155 women have been assisted to receive loans worth 127,417,000 RWF. Like Nyirafeza, they are encouraging other women in agribusiness to improve on business record keeping, apply for credit and make their businesses thrive.

Farmer-to-Farmer: Southern Africa & Moldova

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Overview:

The USAID-funded John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program (2018-2023) is implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in Southern Africa (Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and the Eastern European country of Moldova. CNFA’s current F2F program aims to connect 394 mid-to senior-level U.S. volunteer experts with farmer groups, agribusinesses, trade associations, agricultural finance providers and other agriculture sector institutions to facilitate sustainable improvements in food security and agricultural processing, production and marketing.

The F2F Program was initially authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill with the primary goal of generating sustainable, broad-based economic growth in the agricultural sector through voluntary technical assistance. A secondary goal is to increase the U.S. public’s understanding of international development issues and programs as well as international understanding of U.S.-sponsored development programs. For more information on the activities of the program worldwide, please visit https://farmer-to-farmer.org.

Volunteers:

CNFA recruits highly-trained, exceptionally qualified volunteers — with years of experience in their respective fields — who offer their time and energy to provide technical assistance to farmers and entrepreneurs. Volunteers should be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. See our Volunteer Page for more information on how to become a volunteer.

Program Approach:

CNFA’s approach builds on USAID’s continuous learning from the F2F program since its 1985 inception and CNFA’s decades of experience in F2F implementation. In each country, focal value chains are analyzed to identify critical leverage points for improvements in incomes and food security through volunteer technical assignments.

  1. Increase Agricultural Sector Market-Driven Productivity and Profitability: The Program promotes the adoption of innovative agricultural techniques and technologies and supports improved marketing and business skills.
  2. Improve Conservation and Sustainable Use of Environmental and Natural Resources: The Program leverages conservation agriculture and other practices to produce higher and more stable yields while reducing environmental degradation.
  3. Expand Agricultural Sector Access to Financial Services: The Program’s efforts strengthen the financial management and business-planning skills of farmer organizations and agribusinesses.
  4. Private Sector Engagement: The Program also partners with government and private sector stakeholders and supports organizational development by building local markets and networks.

 

Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project

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Overview:

The $8.5 million, four-year (2014 to 2018) Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) increased the incomes of agribusinesses and agricultural producers to accelerate the development of Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy. To accomplish this, CNFA increased access to finance using local Business Services Providers (BSPs) to grow and expand exports of agricultural entrepreneurs, promoted improved production practices through strengthened extension services, facilitated a favorable business enabling environment and expanded dialogue and the use of analytical tools and training.

Approach:

ASAP was built on the successes of USAID’s support to agricultural producers and processors in Azerbaijan over the last 15 years. Various activities strengthened the ability of domestic producers to meet international quality standards, increase exports and yield better supply and domestic market demand, in turn boosting employment and incomes. ASAP targeted value chains with the highest economic potential including hazelnuts, pomegranates, orchard crops and vegetables. Activities specifically yielded these results:

  1. Increased Technology Adoption: ASAP assisted growers and processors to adopt new technologies and techniques to increase the quality and quantity of production.
  2. Supported Increased Sales: Through ASAP, CNFA facilitated increased exports and enhanced domestic marketing through more rigorous food safety systems, packing and post-harvest methods.
  3. Facilitated Business Connections: ASAP’s activities strengthened the linkages among actors in the respective value chains and fostered cooperation through strengthened industry associations.
  4. Bolstered the Quality of Services Provision: The project built the availability, quality, capacity and sustainability of BSPs and public and private extension services.

Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production

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Overview:

The USAID/Georgia Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production (REAP) activity was a five-year (2013-2018), $19.5 million enterprise development activity that increased income and employment in rural areas by delivering firm-level investment and tailored technical assistance to Georgian agribusinesses. Since October 2013, REAP increased private investment and commercial finance in the agriculture sector by $37.5 million, mitigated risks for rural agribusinesses, upgraded farmers’ agricultural and technical skills and expanded commercially sustainable linkages between service providers, producers and processors.

Approach:

  1. Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development in the Agriculture Sector: By utilizing its $6 million grant fund, REAP partnered with 70 agribusinesses to launch profit centers that provide input supply, services, technical trainings and commercial markets to smallholders. REAP’s investment portfolio, consisting primarily of Farm Service Centers (FSCs) and Machinery Service Centers (MSCs), created over 2,000 new rural jobs, provided over $18 million in new cash markets, trained over 200,000 smallholders and generated new gross sales of over $182 million.
  2. Implemented Technical Assistance Program: To ensure the sustainability of REAP investments and bolster the capacity of Georgia’s agriculture sector, the activity worked closely with its partners to deliver demand-driven, customized technical assistance in collaboration with the private sector to improve competitiveness, increase sales and foster professional development. REAP also supported non-grantees—enterprises that did not meet the competitive benchmarks to receive matching grants—by providing capacity-building consulting through local BSPs and International STTA on a 50-50 cost-shared basis to increase access to funding.
  3. Focused on Gender: REAP ensured inclusive enterprise development and involved men, women and youth in its activities. All C1 grant applicants were required to present a gender integration strategy as part of their proposals. REAP expected at least 15% of grantees and 25% of trainees to be women.
  4. Improved Access to Finance: REAP stimulated affordable financing by working with both financial institutions and agribusinesses, providing technical assistance to improve supply and demand. Through business plans, agriculture lending strategies and training for loan officers, REAP increased the volume of lending to the agriculture sector.
  5. Improved Workforce Development: REAP had a robust internship program that allowed over 120 students to work in fields that support REAP’s implementation, including administration and finance, monitoring and evaluation, environment, access to finance and technical assistance. REAP also offered 11 research grants for students committed to addressing constraints faced in Georgia’s agriculture sector, including an additional nine who focused on Brown Marmorated Stinkbug (BMSB) research.
  6. Focused on the Environment: All grant applicants were visited by REAP’s Environmental Specialist and provided with environmental review checklists and guidance on environmental compliance.

Farmer-to-Farmer: Southern Africa

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Overview:

CNFA implemented the USAID John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program in Southern Africa starting in 2008. From 2008 to 2018, the $7.9 million CNFA-implemented F2F Program operated in the countries of Angola, Malawi and Mozambique and aimed to generate rapid, sustained economic growth in the agricultural sector through short-term technical assistance provided by expert U.S. volunteers, including farmers, bankers, professors, civil servants and active and retired business people. Lasting two-to-four weeks, volunteer assignments focused on a range of topics, from training farmers’ associations in improved production techniques to teaching cooperatives better financial management and marketing.

CNFA volunteers were guided and supported by highly trained home and local teams. Through the storytelling of returned volunteers, F2F increased the broader American public’s understanding of international development issues and the critical importance of U.S. development programs.

Approach:

CNFA worked with agribusinesses, extension agencies, cooperatives and farmers to provide expertise on topics including crop production, post-harvest handling and marketing of seeds, cooperative and association development, business plan development, communications and marketing support and financial management.

  1. Increased Agricultural Sector Productivity and Profitability: CNFA’s approach focused on increasing smallholder productivity and profitability by targeting high-potential value chains in each target country.
  2. Improved Conservation and Sustainable Use of Environmental and Natural Resources: CNFA balanced increased agricultural productivity with improved conservation and sustainable resource use. Examples of volunteer roles include water management, integrated pest management (IPM), and integrated soil fertility management.
  3. Expanded Agricultural Sector Access to Financial Services: CNFA linked smallholder farmer organizations and small and medium enterprises with credit via appropriate channels, including microfinance institutions, banks, supplier credit, leasing, equity investment and blended capital from investors.
  4. Strengthened Agricultural Sector Institutions: CNFA strengthened farmer organizations, including cooperatives and associations, local NGOs, industry associations that support improved input supply, and agricultural universities.

Agricultural Growth Program – Livestock Market Development

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Overview:

The six-year (2012-2018), $41.1 million Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) project was a livestock market development project funded by USAID, as part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative. AGP-LMD fostered growth, created jobs for rural households and reduced hunger and malnutrition by increasing the competitiveness of livestock value chains, including meat and dairy.

The project was part of USAID’s broader contribution to the Government of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Program, which increased agricultural productivity and market access for crop and livestock products in targeted areas while bolstering the participation of women and youth. Additionally, CNFA supported local partner organizations to lead interventions through existing cooperatives, associations, government agencies and private firms, spurring sustainable economic growth in Ethiopia.

Approach:

  1. Increased Productivity and Competitiveness of Selected Livestock Value Chains: AGP-LMD provided training to livestock producers, enabling them to improve their production and increase their competitiveness in domestic and international markets. They also built the capacity of agro-input retailers and private farm suppliers to expand their businesses and offer improved commercial farm inputs and services.
  2. Improved Enabling Environment for Livestock Value Chains: The AGP-LMD team facilitated policy discussions to reform bottlenecks and involved a variety of stakeholders in project workshops and platforms. The project also built capacity for public and private sector actors, coordinated linkages with other USAID programs and applied research to yield successful interventions. Over the life of the project, AGP-LMD developed and supported 11 livestock-related policies, regulations and administrative procedures.
  3. Improved Quality and Diversity of Household Diets: AGP-LMD integrated communications and community mobilization efforts related to nutritional practices throughout its activities, targeting improvements in quality and dietary diversity for children under two and people living with HIV/AIDS. Through development agents and health extension workers, AGP-LMD reached more than 160,000 people with nutrition messaging.
  4. Facilitated Women’s Empowerment: AGP-LMD trained more than 400 women entrepreneurs in business and leadership, equipping them with skills like time management, strategic planning, business relationship management and information and communications technology (ICT) to help them participate more formally in the marketplace, increase their savings, improve the quality of their products and strengthen their household decision-making power.

Partners:

 

Feed the Future Guinea Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth

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Overview:

The CNFA-implemented Feed the Future Strengthening Agriculture Value Chains and Youth (SAVY) Program (2016-2018) facilitated improved access to agricultural inputs, credit tools and market information along the rice, horticulture and livestock value chains in Guinea. 

Approach:

The $11 million SAVY program, which fell under the Guinea Agricultural Services (GAS) project, was funded by USAID and implemented in partnership with six international nongovernmental organizations focused on animal health promotion and animal disease outbreak mitigation, financial inclusion and market facilitation. These three intervention areas had one major cross-cutting activity, the Apprentissage en Vulgarisation, Entreprenariat et Innovation Rurale (AVENIR) (Apprenticeship in Extension, Entrepreneurism and Rural Innovation) program, which engaged 85 entrepreneurial and ambitious youth and provided training, mentoring and work experience needed to become successful entrepreneurs and change agents in a competitive agricultural sector. 

  1. Developed Human and Institutional Capactiy: CNFA collaborated with the Strengthening Market-led Agricultural Research, Technology, and Education (SMARTE) program implemented by Winrock International to implement the AVENIR program.
  2. Boosted Private Sector Engagement and Entrepreneurship: SAVY activities increased positive risk-taking, the use of mobile money and access to and use of affordable credit tools to facilitate new market linkages.
  3. Supported Women’s Empowerment: SAVY activities facilitated opportunities for women in the horticulture and livestock value chains and in processing and marketing activities. The program mitigated constraints faced by women and female youth, such as limited access to and understanding of credit, heavier work burdens and limited ability to make decisions about agricultural production, expenditures and division of land parcels.

Partners:

Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA)

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Overview:

Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa sector is valued at $4 billion annually. As the country’s number-one export and foreign exchange earner, it also represents more than 40 percent of the world’s cocoa supply. As a whole, the crop contributes to roughly 15 percent of the West African nation’s gross domestic product.

Earnings from the cultivation and sale of cocoa support five million people in Côte d’Ivoire, including an estimated one million smallholder farmers and their families. On average, these farmers live on less than $2.00 per day and grow cocoa on small plots of between two to five hectares with low or declining productivity.

These smallholder cocoa farmers have limited capacity to increase the amount of quality beans they can sell, which would otherwise be a viable means of increasing their incomes and improving their livelihoods. This is of great concern to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, which is engaged in its own efforts to strengthen the country-wide capacity to meet rising global demand and improve domestic processing operations. The Government currently maintains a goal of keeping 50 percent of cocoa processing in-country.

To support the cocoa sector in addressing these and other challenges, CNFA is implementing the three-year Maximizing Opportunities in Cocoa Activity (MOCA) from 2017 to 2021.

This $14.6 million USDA Food for Progress activity focuses on increasing the productivity and efficiency of actors in the cocoa value chain. It also seeks to expand the trade of cocoa and cocoa products by improving the quality of crops on existing Government-designated farmland, all towards boosting farmer incomes from these high-value commodities.

Program Approach:

MOCA increases the productivity and efficiency of actors in the cocoa value chain by strengthening the capacity of producers, cooperatives, producer groups, input suppliers and processors of cocoa.

Activities to improve and expand the trade of cocoa and cocoa products focus on reducing losses during production, harvest and post-harvest by increasing access to quality inputs and services; enhancing production, harvest and post-harvest handling techniques; strengthening market linkages; and facilitating access to finance and financial services for producers and cooperatives to more adequately meet existing market opportunities.

These activities occur primarily in the cocoa belt regions of Côte d’Ivoire, where MOCA works with 24 cooperatives and 9,000 producers, input service providers, local processors, financial service providers, exporters and U.S.-based chocolatiers.

  1. Supporting Producer Groups & Cooperatives: MOCA supported farmer cooperatives in areas such as cooperative governance, general and financial management practices and systems, human resources management, access to finance, service delivery, external relations with input and service suppliers and buyers, gender integration and sustainability.
  2. Working with Government & Institutions: MOCA closely coordinated its activities with the Conseil Café et Cacao (CCC) and used the expertise of Côte d’Ivoire’s Agence Nationale d’Appui au Développement Rural (ANADER) and Centre National de Recherche Agronomique (CNRA) to provide services to farmers and cooperatives.
  3. Providing Business Development Services (BDS): MOCA delivered BDS support to over 30 cocoa entrepreneurs and cooperatives in rural and urban areas in business planning, market linkages, capacity building, environmental awareness and the establishment of businesses and business infrastructure.
  4. Facilitating Agricultural Lending: The Activity partnered with six banks, micro-finance institutions (MFIs) and financial service providers to increase over 3,500 producers’ access to and benefit from the use of mobile money, insurances and credit services to pilot new financial services such as crop insurance.
  5. Providing In-Kind Grants for Equipment and Inputs: MOCA awarded 12 in-kind grants valued at $350,000 to entrepreneurs and cooperatives throughout the cocoa value chain in the form of agricultural inputs and equipment.
  6. Developing Agrodealers & Input Suppliers: In collaboration with OLAM, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Jacobs Foundation, MOCA established five spray-service professionals’ units (SSPUs). These SSPU’s provide 125 mostly male rural youth opportunities to engage in cocoa service provision. They also provide affordable fee-based services facilitated by cooperatives for other producers. MOCA also established a network of Farm Service Centers (FSCs) in partnership with Callivoire/UPL. These FSCs improve smallholder access to quality inputs and equipment in MOCA’s zones of intervention and further develop collaboration between producers and agrodealers through improved training and training spaces by these input suppliers.
  7. Training on Improved Production Techniques: MOCA provided training and pruning tools to 9,000 producers through a network of 170 lead farmers from over 20 supported cooperatives with the objective of increasing production and reducing losses due to black pod disease. MOCA also worked in close collaboration with Guittard Chocolate and producers from two cooperatives to produce quality flavor cacao. The first container of quality flavor cacao beans resulting from this initiative was exported in February 2021.
  8. Facilitating Market Relationships: The Activity partnered with the Fine Chocolate Industry Association (FCIA) to increase awareness around quality flavor cacao opportunities in Cote d’Ivoire. MOCA also supported the ambitions of two cooperatives to access new market parties and directly export their products.

Partners:

  1. SOCODEVI

Feed the Future Ethiopia Farm Service Center Project

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Overview:

The two-year, $2.9 million Feed the Future Ethiopia Farm Service Center Project (2015-2017), funded by USAID, provided technical support to the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) in establishing 19 Farm Service Centers (FSCs) throughout the Amhara, Oromia, SNNPR and Tigray regions of Ethiopia. This was a follow-on project to the successful USAID Commercial Farm Service Program, which piloted CNFA’s Farm Service Center solution in Ethiopia

Approach:

  1. Increased Income and Access to Finance: In Ethiopia, CNFA’s FSCs, a market-based private sector solution, applied a matching grant and training methodology to establish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that deliver farm supplies and services. Located in townships, the FSCs served as rural development centers that met the needs of private farmers in their communities. These centers improved access to finance and increased sustainable income by providing a range of agricultural inputs, machinery services, veterinary services and products, marketing assistance for agricultural outputs, training and information and access to credit.
  2. Improved Food Security: The growing network of Farm Service Center retailers positively impacted thousands of smallholder farmers across Ethiopia and increased the viability and food security of the entire region. Additionally, ATA’s monitoring and evaluation information systems ensured that the full impact of this transformation was captured and leveraged to continually integrate lessons learned.
  3. Promoted Gender Equality: The project ensured that gender integration and environmental mitigation measures were fully incorporated in the roll-out of all new Farm Service Centers.