Cultivating Inclusion: Empowering Women in Agrifinance

Mar 7, 2024 | All

As we celebrate International Women’s Day in 2024, it’s imperative to assess the remarkable strides women have made in the field of agrifinance. Agrifinance encompasses the financial activities and instruments that help farmers and those involved in agriculture manage their resources, invest in their operations, and navigate the financial challenges associated with farming. Historically, Agriculture and finance have been male-dominated sectors, but today, women are not only breaking barriers but also reshaping the landscape with their innovative ideas, resilience, and leadership. This article explores how women are inspiring inclusion in agrifinance and showcases the impact of their contributions.

Fostering Financial Inclusion:

In many rural communities, women have limited access to financial services, hindering their ability to invest in their farms and businesses. However, initiatives like microfinance and digital banking are changing this narrative. The World Bank reports that providing women with access to financial services not only enhances their economic opportunities but also contributes to overall economic development.

Source: World Bank – “Gender and Financial Inclusion: A Policy Framework”

Breaking Down Barriers:

Despite the progress, women in agrifinance still face numerous challenges, including limited access to land, credit, and markets, as well as cultural and social barriers. Organizations like the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are working to address these challenges by providing targeted support and promoting gender-responsive policies and programs according to IFAD – “Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment”.

One of the key areas where Mercy Corps Agrifin (MCA) has made significant strides is in breaking down barriers to financial access for women in rural communities. WIth the current iteration of the program, MCA has been able to reach over 1.5 Million women small scale producers with critical digital farmer services across Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania. This has gone towards addressing recent statistics from the World Bank that, globally, women are 20% less likely than men to have a bank account, with this gap even wider in rural areas. MCA has been actively working to bridge this gap by providing financial literacy training, facilitating access to savings and credit services, and promoting the use of digital financial tools such as mobile money tailored to the needs of women farmers and entrepreneurs. Through initiatives like these, Mercy Corps Agrifin is empowering women to take control of their finances and invest in their futures. In addition, MCA is looking into ways Women led SMEs can be empowered through digital services. 

Conclusion:

As we commemorate International Women’s Day in 2024, let us recognize and celebrate the invaluable contributions of women in agrifinance. By driving economic empowerment, promoting sustainable practices, fostering financial inclusion, and breaking down barriers, women are not only inspiring inclusion but also leading the way towards a more equitable and prosperous future for all. It’s time to cultivate a culture of empowerment and ensure that women have equal opportunities to thrive in agrifinance and beyond by ensuring they have access to a  range of tailored, climate-smart agricultural solutions to not only adapt, but thrive in the face of climate change and help build more resilient food systems. Equipped with the right tools, rural women can drive increases in food production, ensure household nutrition, and contribute to mitigation efforts according to a working paper by Mercy Corps AgriFin and CGAP identify sustainable and scalable opportunities for providers, donors and investors to enhance resilience of rural women adapting to climate change and drive positive change in global food systems.

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