Catalyzing finance for women food entrepreneurs: A UN Food Systems Independent Dialogue

Curated by SAFIN and co-convened with the Agripreneurship Alliance, AGRA, the Global Agribusiness Alliance, the International Agri-food Network, IFAD, Nourishing Africa and One Young World.
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When and where

Apr 08, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM GMT+2
Online (Zoom)

About

Transforming food systems requires financially empowering millions of small and medium-sized enterprises to develop new business models that deliver better access to food, nutrition, equitable livelihoods, environmental sustainability and resilience. For women entrepreneurs, the challenge of access to finance is complex, as it interlinks with many factors resulting in gender-unequal access to productive resources, knowledge, technology, and markets. The Food System Summit can help advance game-changing actions that not only empower women food entrepreneurs to access finance but also further gender equality in the entrepreneurship space.

Access to finance is a top challenge for agri-SMEs, and often particularly so for those with innovative business models and for young and women entrepreneurs. The reasons for that include, on the entrepreneurs’ side, lack of physical collateral, limited business management capabilities, lack of credit history, and limited projected returns for their business models, especially when set within poorly functioning markets. On the finance supply side, the reasons for the challenge include lack of adequate financial products, standard procedures with high transaction costs, and limited capacity to properly assess and manage the risks involved with serving this market segment.

Women entrepreneurs often struggle particularly to access forms of capital that require physical asset collateral, as they are less likely than men to own land and other physical assets. In many contexts, they are also less likely to have access to formal sources of business development training, advisory services, technology, and markets. More often than men, they face the challenge of balancing house and family care responsibilities with starting or growing an enterprise. Like other small or medium scale entrepreneurs, many operate in markets that lack a diverse pool of capital to meet the different needs of their enterprises as they grow or lack information to navigate the financial system.

How can the Food Systems Summit catalyse new solutions to these challenges? This event will look at proposals from the FSS process and examples of solutions from different regions, and consider their potential from the perspectives of women entrepreneurs, investors, and other key stakeholders.

Objectives of the dialogue

  •  Foster shared understanding about the importance of “enabling financial ecosystems” for women entrepreneurs, with effective financial offerings on a continuum from grant to commercial capital, business development services, and enabling policies and partnerships.
  • Empower women food and agripreneurs to tell their stories and to present their proposals for solutions to the finance challenge, inspiring ideas for action that participants and the public can take back to their respective networks and constituencies.
  • Consider and refine new or existing game-changer proposals, including the proposal of a global alliance of financial institutions committed to gender transformative finance and to closing the finance gap for women food entrepreneurs by 2030.
  • Raise awareness about existing initiatives that participants can connect to and support and tools that they can use to build new alliances or strengthen their work in this domain.

Discussion topics

After an introductory panel, the event will move to discussion tables around topics emerging from regional gender consultations and game-changer proposals generated in the FSS process, including:

  1. Building women’s entrepreneurship and capacity for innovation: game-changing models in education, business development services, mentorship and peer support.
  2.  Mobilizing finance for gender-transformative investments in food systems: how to galvanize and sustain commitments at scale through a new “global alliance”?
  3. Strengthening information systems to empower women entrepreneurs to navigate effectively the financial sector: bringing a gender lens into existing and new information platforms.
  4. Designing financial products and services for women food entrepreneurs: how to move from gender sensitive to gender transformative? 

Featured speakers 

  • Her Excellency Mrs. Rachel Ruto E.G.H, Founder and Patron, Joyful Women Organization, Spouse of the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya
  • Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, AGRA and Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit
  • Marie Haga, Associate Vice-President, External Relations and Governance, IFAD
  • Dr. Jemimah Njuki, Director for Africa, IFPRI
  • Reema Nanavaty, Director, Rural Organising and Economic Development, SEWA.
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Hosted at the International Fund for Agricultural Development

Via Paolo di Dono, 44, 00142 Rome, Italy

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