Transforming the Lives of Rural Women

Bertha Nzabanita, Rwandan coffee farmer and long-time member of the Musasa cooperative.

One field. That’s all Bertha Nzabanita had left after the devastation of the Rwandan genocide left her a widow. One field, a young son to raise, and few options.

Until she joined Musasa. With the help of this coffee cooperative, Bertha increased her harvest. Higher revenue meant she could repair her family home and pay school fees for her child. “Now he’s finishing studies at the university!” she says proudly.

Agricultural businesses — like cooperatives, associations and small private enterprises — bring farmers and agricultural workers together, allowing them to connect to better markets. As the business grows, member incomes increase and their lives transform.

Just ask Bertha. “The cooperative invests in us,” she says. “And it makes a difference. Today, I have four fields.”

The Ketiara coffee cooperative in Indonesia has been led for almost a decade by a woman, Ibu Rahmah (left).

When agricultural businesses include women, their impact is even greater. They can connect, train and empower women, ultimately creating more economic opportunity for the whole community. Kenia Ubeda, an agronomist and coffee farmer, has been leading the UCCEI cooperative in Nicaragua since 2009. “I didn’t know the first thing about commercializing coffee,” she says. But she learned quickly. Today, business is booming. What’s more, under Kenia’s leadership, the cooperative has invested profits into improving community health and education.

For gender-inclusive businesses, a relationship with Root Capital can be a game-changer. Women typically own less land and have less access to capital than men. Without these resources, they cannot grow. They remain stuck in a cycle of poverty.

We finance agricultural businesses that address this inequality by actively creating jobs and opportunities for women. Our loans help the businesses grow, enabling them to provide higher and more stable prices to their members — women and men.

We train their staff, particularly women working behind-the-scenes as agronomists, accountants, or technicians. These women are the “hidden influencers” of the rural economy. Interfacing frequently with women farmers, they can provide crucial information and advice that helps improve livelihoods.

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Norma Argueta runs the warehouse for the COMSA coffee cooperative in Honduras. (Photo: Sean Hawkey)

We provide Gender Equity Grants, which help businesses provide childcare, construct safe crop storage facilities, and create savings groups for women.

We foster women-led innovation in bringing new products and services to the local market to diversify income sources.

By joining Root Capital, you can strengthen agricultural businesses that are committed to the rise of women in agriculture. With your support, Bertha, Kenia, and hundreds of thousands of other women can grow a better future, for themselves and their communities.

Ensure that rural women get their fair share. Donate today.

Topics: Gender Equity |

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