International Women’s Day: Agricultural innovations and technologies impacting women’s economic empowerment

On International Women’s Day we celebrate some of the achievements and contributions of GoGettaz women who have gone an extra mile to start their agribusinesses, empowered fellow women and created additional  job opportunities. 

African women have an integral role in agriculture, which is the backbone of most economies. The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates 50% of labor is from women who spend approximately two-thirds of their time on agricultural activities contributing almost 60%-80% of the continent’s food, yet some have limited access to key resources such as land ownership, financial services, education, knowledge and skills related to agriculture and, management of agricultural resources to enable them increase their production. 

With digitization of agriculture taking an upward trend and many agricultural services such as advisory and access to markets technologies available online; many farmers – including women and youth – are still left behind due to limited funds to purchase smart phones and lack of or unreliable internet connection in rural areas where agriculture is mostly practiced.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equity” is aligned to Generation Africa’s work in the last 5 years of inspiring the next generation of African agripreneurs who are providing innovative solutions in the agriculture sector by connecting them to the resources they need to move their agri-enterprises from idea to scale leading to increased food production, nutrition security as well as creation of new jobs. 

As much as there has been considerable progress towards achieving gender equity, there is need increase efforts on promoting women agripreneurship, enactment of good policies that favor their businesses,  involvement in key decision-making, better working conditions, increased incubation support to their agri-enterprises and access to financial opportunities to help them scale their agribusinesses.

Meet some of our GoGettaz women who are doing incredible work and solving some of the food system challenges.

Ifeoluwa Olatayo – Founder Soupah Farm-en-Market Limited, Nigeria

Often, the middlemen traders have been described as the biggest obstacle to increasing a farmer’s income and reason for high agricultural food prices. A middleman is someone who plays an intermediary role in a distribution or transaction chain between farmers and traders.

In Nigeria, over 9 million people prefer to buy their agricultural produce from the informal food retail market. Approximately, 70% of traders in these markets who sell perishable produce suffer from economic shortage from the operations of the middlemen who control  food prices and when the costs are high, the same is transferred to consumers. 

Soupah Farm-en-Market Limited, a startup by Ifeoluwa Olatayo aims to remove exploitative middlemen in the food value chain by contributing towards low food prices, increased income for retailers, cutting down post-harvest losses as well as reducing the amount of methane emission into the atmosphere. 

Using its procurement purchase platform technology, Soupah Farm-en-Market Limited bridges the gap between rural farmers and urban retailers with an end-to-end supply chain traceability leading to less wastage and affordable food for urban consumers. 

Agricultural products are sourced directly from rural farmers and sorted depending on the demand. Using a QR code, retailers scan to get additional information of the product such as origin of the produce, time harvested, cost, quantity available and the duration the produce will take on transit. Once the retailer chooses his/her desired agricultural produce and payment is done, a dispatch is made to their destination. 

This platform has the ability to collect various data sets that can be used to transform distribution channels, enhance transparency, end-to-end food traceability and information sharing across the supply chain hence eliminating exploitative middle men in the value chain. 

Ifeoluwa Olatayo is in the process of integrating block chain technology to facilitate direct, secure and fast transactions from farmers (with offline capabilities for rural farmers) to record all food data, trade transactions and food traceability.

Naledi Magowe – Co-Founder Brastorne Enterprises, Botswana

Brastorne’s Enterprises, a startup by Naledi Magowe that leverages digital infrastructure by collaborating with telco networks and offers an alternative to low-cost data to reach poor rural poor smallholder farmers using their mobile devices.

One of its products, mAgri is a USSD mobile application helping farmers’ access timely agricultural information ranging from farming tips to improve yields, market-prices and most importantly weather alerts and early warning for climate catastrophes that can adversely affect their production. The service has been widely adopted by farmers in rural areas because it does not require any internet connection.

Overall, the mAgri platform led to over 250% increase in yields for farmers, 115% increased income for female farmers and over 77% savings on communication and information access for users. 

Fily Keita – Founder Agrowomen, Mali 

In Mali, approximately 95% of sesame seeds grown are exported outside the country and only 5%  consumed locally while 90% of rice grown is also exported and only 10 % is consumed locally representing the huge market potential especially through value addition of its products.

With this realization, Fily Keita formed Agrowomen, a startup that adds value to local cereals and oilseeds by processing sesame and making cold press natural sesame oil, sesame snacks, cakes and local made rice “Malodouma” (tasteful rice).

Agrowomen works closely with women farmers and cooperatives who supply them with raw materials which are processed to various sesame bi-products leading  to women empowerment, increased job opportunities and  food security.

The startup also connects small farmers and cooperatives to national and international buyers and has partnered with supermarkets, food shops and online markets who sell their products. 

Siny Samba – Co-Founder Le Lionceau, Senegal

With a strong passion in the food industry, Siny Samba formed “Le Lionceau”, a startup that utilizes local organic raw materials with high nutritional value to improve nutrition health of mothers and babies while strengthening the local food value chain with ready to use purees adapted to their nutritional needs and made from local organic ingredients such as moringa, millet and baobab fruit which are processed in the company’s semi-industrial plant. 

Almost 46.4 million babies are born annually in Africa who need proper nutrients to stay healthy and strong to protect themselves against diseases. Upon doing research, Samba realized the market was flooded with imported nutritional products which were very expensive and decided to take advantage of this business opportunity by offering affordable nutritional  products to women and children which are free from artificial preservatives and key in promoting physical growth and brain development of children to tackle malnutrition. 

Joana Paintsi – Co-Founder Women and Youth in Bee Keeping and Value Chain (WYN-BG), Ghana

More than 6.6 million households in Ghana consume at least 1kg of honey annually. Integrating beekeeping into crop farming practices increases pollination and doubles the crop productivity whilst at the same time producing high quality bee products.

WYN-BG, a startup led by Joana Paintsil trains smallholder farmers on sustainable farming practices and urges them to integrate beekeeping to promote biodiversity. Some of the bi-products from bees include: honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis  and a super immune booster nutrient supplement made from honey and other nutrient rich herbs to produce an all-natural, inclusive nutrient supplement for all age groups.  This has enabled farmers to make additional income from the sale of honey bi-products. 

Today, the startup has trained and supported over 500 smallholder farmers on beekeeping and employed over  50 youth who are involved in the production and sale of bee products and natural cosmetics. 

Happy International Women’s Day to all GoGettaz!