Gender Equity

Agricultural enterprises can help level the playing field for rural women, boosting their economic opportunities and agency.

The Challenge

Women are the backbone of the agricultural sector. Yet numerous barriers—educational, economic, and social—prevent them from accessing vital resources and opportunities. This inequity doesn't just impact women; it can have damaging consequences for rural economies as a whole.

The good news is that by investing in rural women, we can increase agricultural productivity, reduce poverty and hunger, and promote economic growth. Closing the gender gap would not only help women prosper, it would help their families and communities thrive.

Our Approach

Seek out and unlock potential of businesses committed to gender equity.

Build women's financial and agricultural knowledge so they can thrive, personally and professionally.

Encourage and support women-led design of new products and services that benefit the whole community.

Demonstrate a model for investing in women in agriculture to help catalyze gender-smart policies and practices.

Our Impact

$92.3M

in loans to gender-inclusive and women-led businesses in 2022.

1,641

women who received training to build their professional skills since 2021.

128

additional jobs for women supported by Root Capital in 2022.

581K

women farmers reached since 2012.


Stories of Impact


How this Peruvian Artisan is Running a Business on Her Own Terms

Fany Paty, artisan supplier to Art Atlas, a textile business based in Arequipa, Perú. Fany Paty always wanted to run her own business. Like many entrepreneurs, Fany longed for a job where she could have flexible working hours and a healthy degree of independence. But for Fany, this wasn’t a matter of personal preference. She needed to bring in enough money to provide for her family while still having the time to care for them day-to-day.

From 2 A.M. to Sundown: A Day in the Life of Carmen Blandón

Carmen Blandón, member of Root Capital client Solidaridad, at her home in Matagalpa, Nicaragua For 52-year-old Carmen Blandón, her coffee farm is a business. And she’s the boss.

Women in Agriculture Initiative: 2015 Annual Report

Root Capital invests in women by investing in agricultural businesses that promote gender-inclusive practices. This report presents an update on our Women in Agriculture Initiative (WAI), through which we study the roles played by women across our value chains and the barriers they face to full participation, and identify opportunities to deepen our clients’ impacts on women.

Download Report

Odds Stacked Against Her, This Woman is Rising to the Top of Her Game

Kenia Ubeda, general manager of UCCEI, a Root Capital client in Matagalpa, Nicaragua Kenia Ubeda never thought she’d be running a coffee business. “I was an agronomist and a coffee farmer,” she says with a smile on her face. “I didn’t know the first thing about commercializing coffee.” But the community leaders who tapped Kenia to found and run UCCEI, a farmer cooperative in the coffee-fueled town of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, knew she had what it took. And in 2009, Kenia rose to the challenge and became UCCEI’s general manager, overseeing a business currently sourcing from over 900 smallholder farmers in the region.

A Persistent Daughter Teaches Her Old School Dad New Tricks

Throughout our 15 years of lending to agricultural enterprises, we have found that women are often hired for office positions in accounting, marketing, sales and other midlevel management roles – roles that are highly influential but less visible, and therefore less studied and celebrated, than top-tier leadership roles. We call these women “hidden influencers.” In the context of large corporations, McKinsey & Company has defined the term “hidden influencers” as “people other employees look to for input, advice, or ideas about what’s really happening in a company.” Odalis Noeme Guerrero is just one example of a “hidden influencer” we have had the fortune of meeting through our work. Odalis  Noeme Guerrero, agronomist at UNICAFEC.

Women in Agriculture Trip to Colombia: Dispatch from the Field

Root Capital SVP Catherine Gill (center) with trip participants. Through this blog, we try to bring you close to our clients and their stories. Sometimes, some of our partners and donors take the opportunity to get even closer, and accompany us over the mountain and down the muddy road to meet the farmers and see firsthand the amazing agricultural businesses we work with. Two weeks ago, the Root Capital crew – our senior vice president, Catherine Gill, our Colombian loan officer, and I – bused around Colombia’s coffee lands with partners from the Weissberg Foundation, Dietel Partners, and the Aspen Institute – on a Women-in-Agriculture-themed trip.

Tweaking Financial Management Trainings to Better Serve Women: A Checklist

A Root Capital financial management workshop in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. A few years ago, Esperanza Dionisio, the general manager of Pangoa, a coffee cooperative in Peru, told us a story about a meeting she’d recently attended. “There wasn’t a single woman there,” she said. “More than a hundred men, all of them stunned, looking at me like some kind of rare insect. But I had the chance to raise my hand and say something, and they were all shocked. It was just me and all those men, but I had the background and the knowledge, and so in the end they were satisfied, and they appreciated my work.”

Root Capital Client Shines at Bush Center’s 2015 Global Women’s Network

Plenary panel at the 2015 Global Women's Network. Photo credit: ExxonMobil Foundation. Earlier this week, Iliana Martinez, the general manager of Cooperativa Esquipulas, a smallholder coffee farmer cooperative and Root Capital client in the highlands of Guatemala, and Root Capital’s SVP Catherine Gill joined First Ladies, private and public sector leaders, and the next generation of innovators in Dallas at the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s two-day Global Women’s Network summit.

Sustainable Agriculture Depends on Women

Stella Kimemia of Classic Foods | photo credit: Partners in Food Solutions. It’s an inspiring thing to see a woman-led business increasing livelihoods for women farmers and employees in parts of the world that markets struggle to reach. It’s even more powerful when that business does so while having a positive impact on the physical environment. At Root Capital, investing in those kinds of businesses – high-impact, gender-inclusive, focused on agriculture – is our sweet spot. We provide loans and capacity-building services to these enterprises in Africa, Asia and Latin America, giving them the critical capital they need, but all too often cannot access, to grow their business and scale their impact.

Getting Women a Seat at the Table: Q&A with Charles Maina, Financial Advisory Coordinator for East Africa

Over the last year or so, our Advisory Services team has been experimenting with different ways in which we can continue to increase the participation of women in our various financial management and technical assistance workshops around the world. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Charles Maina, our financial advisory coordinator for East Africa, to hear about the innovative approach he and his team have been piloting among our Advisory clients in Uganda and Rwanda.