Women and girls bear the brunt of several critical challenges of our time, from climate change to access to finance to an inequitable share of domestic responsibilities. The hurdles faced by rural women in emerging markets where Root Capital operates are even more acute. That’s where the Women in Agriculture Initiative (WAI), our gender-focused impact pathway, comes in.
The WAI was launched in 2012 to promote gender equity and inclusion for women in agriculture. The initiative has already transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of women in developing economies by unlocking the potential of investing in businesses committed to gender equity. And, today, women are at the center of Root Capital’s overall organizational strategy.
We’re releasing the WAI Annual Report to share key activities and accomplishments from 2022 through June 2023. As we close in on the second half of our most recent 5-year strategy, we are making great progress on gender equity and are confident that we will achieve our 2025 goals. As of Q2 2023, we have:
- invested $621 million (of our cumulative $859 million 2025 goal) in gender-inclusive and women-led enterprises;
- reached 637k rural women through our lending (compared to our cumulative 2025 goal of 1.2 million)
- reached all-time highs in our lending portfolio, with gender-inclusive businesses and women-led businesses representing 62% and 32% of our portfolio, respectively; and
- provided 48 clients with Gender Equity Advisory (GEA) services, well on our way to our annual goal of 57 clients.
Perhaps most importantly, we are excited to announce the launch of The Women’s Council. The Women’s Council is a space for women leaders to explore key issues, such as climate change, access to finance, and gender barriers that women in agriculture face. I was honored to meet with the five African women founders last month at a two-day convening in Kenya. You can read more about them and The Women’s Council here.
A special thank you to Visa Foundation, Wagner Foundation, Walmart Foundation, and our growing community of dedicated gender equity funders and research partners for making our WAI work possible!
To learn more about expanding access to finance to more women-led and gender-inclusive businesses across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, read the full report. Find the report in Spanish here.
About the Author
Leonor Gutiérrez is the Director of the Women in Agriculture Initiative.