THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP OF WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE
By Lynda Ekoue - Board of Director
Rural women's entrepreneurship today is a good initiative. In the agricultural sector, women run their businesses and yet their socio-economic benefits and skills are not recognised and remain untapped. Affluent women, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, play an essential role in the agricultural sector of the continent. According to estimates, these women represent 52% of the total population and 50% of them are involved in agricultural farms, but they have limited access to reproductive resources compared to men. According to the United Nations Food Fund (UNF), the poor performance of agriculture in developing countries is attributable to the limited number of women in productive resources and their disabilities in this sector.
Women's entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth in developing countries and represents an under-exploited potential. For many women, agricultural entrepreneurship is part of a broad strategy to increase their sources of income. These women often face discriminatory land, family and other laws and practices. Sometimes even though these laws are equal, women are not informed about their land rights and other reproductive income. Low levels of education, widespread illiteracy, lack of training, and insufficient experience in business management limit women's ability in rural areas to make their businesses viable. Transportation infrastructure dating back to the colonial era, recurrent electricity and water problems in African countries also impede women's access to resources, markets and public services.
Business development services are not accessible in many rural areas with low population density and women cannot access them because of their education levels and can only rely on their friends or family. Their families to get support in running their businesses. To address these issues facing women in rural areas, women's empowerment policies and organisations and other structures involved in women's empowerment need to incorporate appropriate measures for women entrepreneurs. The programs and services must take into account specific needs and recognise women-led enterprises and build an environment conducive to the development of these enterprises. It is essential to improve the entrepreneurial skills of women in rural areas and develop gender-sensitive business and finance services. It is crucial to encourage the gradual integration of rural women's enterprise into the formal economy. To train women in rural areas measures to strengthen health and safety at the workplace, quality standards and marketing procedures will improve their performance in export or domestic markets. They must also learn about compliance with specific international standards.