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Three misconceptions about women in agribusiness that hold companies back

Nathalie Hoffmann's picture

Debunking common misconceptions about women in agribusiness can unlock business opportunities for the private sector

At the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, global leaders from across the world came together to deliberate on some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as agriculture and food security and greater social inclusion. With the global population projected to rise more than 9 billion by 2050 and the demand for food expected to jump sharply, the need for addressing the challenges of food security assumes greater urgency than before. There is also a growing need to adopt stronger measures to reduce the gender gap—women shouldn’t have to wait 170 years to bridge the divide.

Ahead of the Davos meeting, IFC released a report on agribusiness, Investing in Women along Agribusiness Value Chains, highlighting how companies can increase productivity and efficiency in the agriculture sector by closing economic and social gaps between women and men throughout the value chain, from farm to retail and beyond. The solution to address two of the most pressing challenges—food security and gender parity—isn’t difficult to find, as my research for the report suggests.

Women comprise over 40 percent of the agricultural labor force worldwide and play a major role in agriculture; yet they face a variety of constraints, such as limited access to agricultural inputs, technologies, finance, and networks. As the report shows, an increasing number of companies now recognize that investing in women can help increase companies’ bottom lines—while helping improve the lives of people in rural areas.

Yet, despite the clear business rationale, one wonders why more companies aren’t replicating the efforts of successful companies. The answer probably lies in the prevailing misconceptions about women in agribusiness—despite promising business case testimonials for gender-smart investments from multinational companies such as Mondelēz International and Primark.

Agribusiness companies need support in identifying where and how they can close gender gaps in their value chain. A good start would be to debunk those common misconceptions about women in the sector:

In India, a hospital that’s just what the doctor ordered

Pankaj Sinha's picture



The Indian State of Bihar, by population, is larger than the Philippines. Or, if you prefer, by the number of residents, Bihar would be the 13th largest country in the world. Yet Bihar’s health indicators are consistently worse than India’s average. And despite accounting for nearly 9% of India’s population, not a single specialty health facility in Bihar is among the nearly 340 Indian hospitals accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals & Healthcare Providers.

The combination of a high population and a significant lack of quality specialty healthcare facilities has a profound negative impact on the people of Bihar. This is an onerous burden in a state that is already one of the five poorest in India, with a per capita income only half of that of the country as a whole.


Need healthcare in India? Meghalaya is the place for you.

Pranav Mohan's picture



Imagine you fall ill or have a serious accident. You survive, but to recover you need extensive medical care. The problem? You don’t have insurance and have to pay out of pocket. Your life savings are quickly drained away, as are your dreams. Your children lose hope for higher education; your well-researched business plan becomes a work of fiction.

A tale of… cities

Jenny Chao's picture


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” 
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

To skip or not to skip (the grid): larger and smaller energy PPPs

Philippe Valahu's picture



I recently took part in #skipthegrid, a social media forum about renewables, which has led me to ask: “Is off-grid the way of the future for energy Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in lower-income countries?”

At the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG) we are supporting smaller, off-grid projects in the lowest income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia by mobilizing private investment for the provision of power to commercial off-grid properties and the construction of mini-grids.

I’ll take my coffee green, no cream, no sugar

Ellysar Baroudy's picture
Photo credit: Katie O’Gara

Ethiopia, the single largest African coffee producer and the world’s fifth largest, is commonly considered to be the birthplace of coffee.  It’s hardly a surprise that when you survey the landscape of Ethiopia’s Oromia region, an area the size of Italy, it is bespeckled with native Coffea arabica farms. 
 
In Ethiopia, about 95 percent of the coffee is produced by an estimated 1.2 million smallholder farmers. So it was quite fitting to focus on the country’s smallholder coffee farmers in Oromia for a project to help promote climate-smart “green” practices.
 
This week, the World Bank Group’s BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (ISFL) announced it was taking part in a project together with the Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), along with the international coffee company, Nespresso and the non-profit, TechnoServe.

From billions to trillions: converting billions of official assistance to trillions in total financing

Bassam Sebti's picture


Urgent action is needed to mobilize, redirect and unlock trillions of dollars of private resources to ensure global growth and shared prosperity.

Since 1956, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank Group’s member focused exclusively on the private sector, leveraged $2.5 billion in paid-in capital from its shareholders to invest over a trillion dollars for private sector development. IFC’s 60 years of experience has demonstrated the private sector’s ability to create innovative, commercially viable solutions that deliver development impact.

“A year ago, we all signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals. The only way to achieve these goals is if private capital funds them and private business implements them,” said Gavin Wilson, CEO of IFC’s Asset Management Company (AMC) during the World Bank Group/IMF Annual Meetings 2016.

“That’s why we came up with the phrase ‘Billions to Trillions’ last year with our multilateral institutions in the run-up to the Addis conference on financing for development,” he added.

But what does “Billions to Trillions” actually mean? Wilson explained that “we must convert billions of official assistance … to the trillions in total financing.” But he raised a very important question: how are we going to combine commercial capital with development needs?

Lending a hand to transform the energy mix of an island nation

Kruskaia Sierra-Escalante's picture
 IFC
The BMR Jamaica Wind project, Jamaica’s largest private-sector renewable energy project. Photo: IFC


Last month, a new wind farm began spinning its blades in Jamaica. At 36 megawatts (MW) it became Jamaica’s largest private-sector renewable energy project, set to diversify the country’s energy matrix, reducing its high electricity prices and generating significant environmental and social benefits.

In Papua New Guinea, empowering women is smart business

Amy Luinstra's picture

© WBG Library

Oilmin Holdings, a logistics management company providing services to the oil, gas, and mining industry in Papua New Guinea, did not employ all that many women, but they had a star performer in Rose.
 
Rose had risen from administrative assistant to office manager in the company’s headquarters in Port Moresby.  Her boss at Oilmin wanted her to go further up the chain, but in their industry, the next logical step – and one required for senior management roles - was managing a field site. It required long hours and smarts. Rose was willing and able, but it also meant a very remote location. It was too risky, her managers decided; they didn’t know how to keep her safe. Sending extra security guards – all male – would only increase the risk to her, not protect her, they concluded. 

Harvard Kennedy School and IFC team up for senior training on PPPs and project finance

Isabel Chatterton's picture

I recently had the chance to get to know dozens of forward-thinking, dynamic individuals from the public and private sectors. Despite their varied backgrounds, resumes, and perspectives, they shared one thing in common: they have all been influential in shaping the Asia Pacific PPP landscape. Our gathering was part of the IFC PPP Transaction Advisory Services Unit’s four-day Senior Training Program on PPPs and Project Finance, in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School in Singapore.

All of the participants – government representatives, donors, private sector clients, World Bank and MIGA staff, as well as senior IFC staff -- offered a different view on how best to combat today’s global PPP challenges. We captured a few key insights from the training program to share with others:

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