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FAO-IAFN Women’s Accelerator Mentorship Programme for Women-led SMEs in Africa


©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

The number of women working in entrepreneurial activities is higher in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than in any other part of the world. Women entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture drive sustainable development and play a critical role in building more inclusive and prosperous societies. They create jobs, improve household incomes and bring in a wealth of benefits beyond economic growth. 

But despite their significant contribution to the agriculture sector, rural women typically find themselves in disadvantaged positions. Compared to men, they tend to face more restricted access to productive resources and assets, capacity development, financial services and social protections. 

Gender equality and women empowerment is central to FAO’s mandate to achieve food security for all and reduce rural poverty. Ensuring gender equality and empowering women operating within the agrifood systems presents a unique opportunity to make sure that women-owned businesses are actively contributing to the agrifood systems transformation we are calling for.

That's why in 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) joined forces to launch a pilot Accelerator Mentorship Programme to support women entrepreneurs in addressing the key challenges and constraints they face in their businesses. The programme supports African women-led Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agrifood system, providing them with the tools and resources necessary to grow their enterprises and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.


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