Financial exclusion is still a great need for the majority of Africa’s women in livestock keeping. This is exemplified by the focus on the assets that are far more accessible to men. As a means of contributing towards financial inclusion, AU-IBAR, under the Live2Africa Project, with funding from the European Union (EU), and in collaboration with the Africa Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN) brought together 64 continental, regional and national executives from the African Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N) at a capacity building workshop. The workshop themed "The Only Measures are Profit and Growth" was held on 27th – 29th November, 2019 in Naivasha, Kenya. The focus of the workshop was on resourcing, negotiating and utilizing innovative investment finance and insurance.
Speaking during the official opening of the capacity building workshop, AU-IBAR’s Director, mentioned that the workshop provided a strengthened and continuous process of capacity building for African Women AGRIBUSINESSES that AU-IBAR and AWAN hoped to embark on. Prof. Ahmed Elsawalhy stressed the importance of moving away from aid-related support to supporting agribusiness to ensure functional businesses, which as he further noted is a key focus of the Live2Africa Project.
He stated: "the most important remark came from our donor the European Union: support has moved from purely aid to supporting business. This is now the model, to ensure ownership, growth and sustainability. This is where the EU and other donors, who have had a long tradition of support to empowering women on the African continent are moving."
Ms. Beatrice Gakuba, Executive Director AWAN-Afrika reminded participants of the need to take advantage of existing continental instruments promoting agribusiness. She noted that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement provides an opportunity for women to strengthen their trade practices through a hassle-free accelerated intra-African trade through a common voice in trade discussions. She emphasised that "the Africa We Want" will not happen if Africa’s women are not empowered.
In her welcome remarks to participants, Dr. Sonia Romdhani, President of the African Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network, highlighted the need to invest in human resources to ensure innovation and success in agribusiness. She further informed participants of AU-IBAR’s vast programme in animal resources development, paying special focus on the prioritization of livestock value chains. Participants were encouraged to familiarise themselves with value chain functionalities in order to ensure productivity of their businesses. In addition, participants were informed of AWARFA-N engagement in Member State Fund support for 18 projects that were selected as awardees. Participants that managed to benefit from the MS fund were congratulated. She expressed her wish for the women to be involved in InterAfrican trade as they became more capacitated.
To initiate the process of enhancing women in animal resources farming and agribusiness access to appropriate and sustainable financing and insurance, the capacity building exercise had a number of objectives, notably to:
- Develop core leadership and governance skills for establishment and management of vibrant and sustainable AWARFA-N Chapters
- Develop AWARFA-N Executives knowledge and capacities to harness inclusive finance and to strengthen their investment readiness
- Build Inclusive Market Access and Trade literacy and capacity for policy engagement and advocacy on market access and trade: this will focus on Issues critical to enhancing women’s entry into intra and inter regional and global trade.
In addition to the official opening session, the other sessions of the training comprised the following: ‘Training on leadership and governance of women led AR-Enterprises; Finance, Investment and Trade Literacy; Dialogue with Regional/ Continental Banks for More Appropriate Financing Mechanisms for Women in AR-Business. A panel discussion on ‘what women need to enjoy an equitable share of the Business in the Animal Resources (AR) Sector brought out a number of promising initiatives on the ground. Attention was also paid to strengthening network communication processes and sustainability.
After the meeting, participants worked on skills development plans that would be completed in quarter one of 2020. The resulting plans will identify specific and measurable skills development and enterprise growth targets that will be time-bound and costed. Training will be rolled out prior to the end of Q1 2020 in line with investigatory findings and will continue throughout the two year project timeframe in line with the training plan that will be agreed to. Every training event will be linked to a practical activity that will move the participating enterprises forward in their endeavours.
AWARFA-N was launched in 2018 with the aim of increasing greater collaboration of women animal resources agri-businesses, and providing a platform for information and experience sharing, and development of synergies to give women in agribusiness a greater competitive edge in domestic, regional and global markets. The networks attracts women actors across the value chain, who are brought together by shared goals that give impetus for active participation and sustained engagement. It provides a means for innovative interactions that should allow all the businesses to increase value. It is expected that the Network(s) will not create new legal entities, but rather women’s agribusinesses will capitalize on the network to create new opportunities and expand their linkages.