Women engaging in agribusiness in Africa face a lot of challenges that hinder their growth. According to Beatrice Gakuba the Executive Director of African Women Agribusiness Network (AWAN), many women don’t have information on where they can access the finances to boost their agribusinesses. “Where they have the information they are asked for collateral which most of the times is land, which belongs to the husband or the family,” says Gakuba.
Gakuba says that in the rural areas, women will grow something and when it comes to engaging in trade, the role is taken over by the men surrounding them like their husbands or their brothers. “A woman goes to the market to sell small things but when it starts growing and becoming big, the men surrounding her take over,” she opines. She says women who trade across the borders are subjected to more harassment than men too.
“There is also a digital gap because anything new that comes up with technology first goes to men. Even in the family setting the boys get it first. We can’t grow the continent when we are ignoring constantly the 50% of the population,” says Gakuba.
She, however, says that technology in Africa is making agriculture more appealing to young people and more are getting into agriculture. The mobile phone and mobile applications have played a great role in this. Gakuba challenges the youth to take over the market value chain in agriculture as they have got the knowledge and skills coupled with technology. With the creation of a new Africa Free Trade Area, she says the challenge is no longer the market but how one enters it.
However, Gakuba says that the trading environment in the continent has improved over the last ten years. “The African continent is going forward and becoming robust and we have to commend our leaders as we criticize them a lot. We have to recognize that they have created an enabling environment that we are operating in and it is not what it was ten years ago. It is up to us Africa citizens to ask what we can do for ourselves and not wait for others to come and do it for us,” she adds.