Women in Agriculture Initiative
Investing in gender inclusive businesses in Latin America & Africa
Women produce more than half of the world’s food, yet own only two percent of titled land and receive less than 10 percent of credit available for small businesses. Root Capital believes that these inequalities must change if we ever hope to break the cycle of poverty and hunger in rural areas of the developing world. When women are given economic opportunities, they make investments that benefit not just themselves but their families and their communities.
Root Capital supports small and growing businesses that strengthen the social and economic position of small-scale farmers. Launched in 2012, Root Capital’s Women in Agriculture Initiative aims to enhance our lending products and financial advisory services to provide reliable economic opportunities for women, and to ultimately better understand how women help grow rural prosperity so that we can magnify our impact over time.
The initiative focuses on industries that traditionally employ large percentages of women, such as shea nuts and other wild-harvested crops, staple food products and agro-processing, as well as businesses led by women entrepreneurs and managers.
We screen all of our prospective clients for inclusion in the initiative based on the following criteria:
- Leadership: Are women in positions of leadership in the business? This includes women as managers, board members, and owners.
- Employment: Are women well represented (at least 30 percent) as employees in the business or as members of the cooperative?
- Gender policy and culture: Does the organization have stated policies or offer social programs that benefit women, for example maternal health or breast cancer screening?
Our goals for 2012-2016
By 2016 the initiative will:
- Finance 200 gender-inclusive businesses.
- Reach 200,000 female producers.
- Build financial management capacity for 100 businesses with strong gender policies, woman leadership and/or sizable female employment or membership.
Our long-term goal is to demonstrate the viability of lending to gender inclusive businesses and to spur the development of a financial market that serves these enterprises in perpetuity. We seek to crowd in competition and catalyze a market.