Women play a critical role in agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa, providing up to 50% of agricultural labor force, producing food, while ensuring family nutrition and food security. But as it has been documented in recent evidence, gender-based inequalities in access to and control over productive resources and services inhibits their productivity and reduce food security and nutritional outcomes. The gaps range from access to quality extension services to accessing finance and credits and mechanizations services amongst many others. This gender gap in access to productive resources reduces their productivity by 20-30 %, with a resulting reduction in agricultural GDP by 2.5-4.0%, food enough to feed an equivalent of 150 million people. Closing the gender gap in agriculture would generate significant gains for rural households and economies and the society.

Entrepreneurship among women in Africa is documented as highest in developing countries, with recent evidence showing how a lack of alternative, “necessity rather opportunity”, drive the entrepreneurial activities among women (WB 2019). Agriculture offers one of the greatest possibilities for women to not only start agribusinesses but to graduate their businesses along the value chains.

A large majority of women in agribusiness mostly operate micro enterprises that are informal and often trade in saturated local markets, where intense competition drives down eventual benefits. Recent evidence points to 40% fewer women than men being agribusiness leaders, whereas women-led agribusinesses typically see lower sales, scale, and profits compared to businesses owned by men.

Women-led agribusinesses also tend to remain small, fragmented, and informal. Consequently, women’s agribusinesses have historically been less investible than men’s. A 2021 Partech report showed that only 14% of the total equity funding, including AgriTech funding raised in 2021, went to female-founded start-ups. The gender gap in Agripreneurs can be attributed to (i) women Agripreneurs’ limited access to competitive assets such as finance, networks, and information to grow their businesses (ii) women Agripreneurs’ limited market/trade access resulting in lower profitability, scale, and slower growth, (iii) institutional and policy barriers that hamper women’s productive participation in Agripreneurs, and not enough advocacy to elevate and address these barriers.

In recognition of these challenges and the opportunities for scaling women’s contribution in agriculture AGRA developed the VALUE4HER initiative. VALUE4HER is AGRA’s continental initiative, aimed at strengthening women’s agribusinesses enterprises and enhancing voice and advocacy across Africa. VALUE4HER is powered by VALUE4HERConnect, Africa’s first Women in Agribusiness digital marketplace, offering integrated business solutions to women agribusinesses, to enable them build visibility, business networks and collective capital across the continent while facilitating easier connections with buyers, financiers, and other service providers. VALUE4HERConnect leverages the power of digital tools to bridge structural and gendered gaps in access to business resources, deliver real-time information, offer relevant knowledge, and amplify women’s voices through advocacy.