The first edition of the Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa (GAIA) 2017 AgTech Challenge was concluded on Wednesday at the Alisa Hotel in Accra, Ghana.
The bootcamp and final selections were coordinated with the leadership of Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg the Director African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), a team from the AWARD Secretariat, trainers, Intellecap and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Nana Osei-Bonsu the CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation of Ghana (PEF) who spoke on behalf of PEF and Dr Alex Ariho the CEO of the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) in the keynote speech highlighted the big impact of GAIA.
“We are highly optimistic that this and the energy from AWARD, among other partners will not only set the pace for even more innovation, but give a major example for younger generations to recognise and maintain as priority, the empowerment and participation of women in research, innovations and market-leading activities in agribusiness,” – Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation of Ghana.
Nana also hinted on the progress made so far in gender mainstreaming in the sector, citing that today, women are more pro-active in running independent and thriving agribusinesses, with increased value addition, making food more available to a population that is fast-growing.
Why focus on gender in agribusiness
With the GAIA AgTech challenge designed to promote gender-responsive innovations, its advantages were emphasized by key speakers on Wednesday.
“Closing the gender gap in agribusiness is one way of increasing Africa’s competitiveness,”– Prof. Rose Emma Mamaa Entsua-Mensah, Deputy Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR Ghana) and member of AWARD.
“Investment in agribusiness that is inclusive through partnerships such as these with AAIN, AWARD, CSIR and others will quicken the development of the sector and USAID is committed to our contribution to this campaign,”– Andrew Karas, Ghana Country Mission Director for USAID.
“Inclusive agribusiness will further increase incomes and bring better livelihood to many women in Africa,” -Efua Amissah Arthur, in speaking on behalf of Dr Kennedy Mbekeani, the Head of the AfDB country office in Ghana.
2017 winner for West and North Africa
Out of the 200 applications for this edition which covered West and North Africa, 31 made it through the selections to the boot camp in Accra.
The winner was selected as Fresh Direct Nigeria represented by Angel Adelaja.
AWARD is committed to linking the finalists to the right partnerships to create even more impact from their innovations and businesses as hinted by Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg the Director who also congratulated the winners and thanked partners for their commitment.
As hinted by Nana Osei-Bonsu, women in Africa hold massive potential for bringing the best out of innovations including those from agribusiness incubators.
“Women have been highly responsive to technologies which the incubators have commercialised over time, with clear examples from the Benin Agribusiness Incubation Hub (BAIH) and the AfriBanana Products Limited Incubator (ABP) in Uganda. Here, the techniques for value addition that were commercialised by the incubators soy bean and banana respectively have been taken up by women who have now developed Small Scale Agribusiness Incubators to benefit others further away from the incubators,” – Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation of Ghana.
Increase of women access to ICT, financing, training and mentorship in business are now a centre-stage theme, having also headlined the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from the 13th to the 24th of March 2017 with the year’s theme as “Women’s Economic Empowerment in the changing world of work.”