Partnership will help women reap greater benefits from increased participation in value chains and expand reach of ITC’s SheTrades initiative.
The International Trade Centre (ITC) and The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) today announced they are teaming up to boost the livelihoods of women farmers in West Africa.
A new project, ‘SheTrades West Africa: Improving Women’s Livelihoods Through Inclusive Value Chains’, will initially focus on supporting 10,000 women in the cashew sector in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, shea butter in Guinea and cassava in Liberia. KOICA’s contribution of US$5.54m allows ITC to establish new operations in West Africa under ITC’s SheTrades Initiative. Globally, the goal of the SheTrades Initiative is to connect 3 million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2021.
Using cash crops as an entry point, the project will deploy diverse and integrated farming and livelihoods strategies to enable poor rural households to better manage risk, ensure food security and increase the quality of produce going to market.
To ensure impact across the region, ITC will be working directly with women farmers, but also in partnership with local and regional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cooperatives, farmers’ associations, and trade and investment support institutions. Crucial to the project’s success will be, in collaboration with the governments of the four countries, the creation of a more supportive business and policy environment that caters better to women farmers and women-owned SMEs.
ITC Executive Director Arancha González said: ‘At ITC, we are pleased to join forces with KOICA to ensure greater economic opportunities for women in West Africa. Through this new project, we look forward to empowering more women to trade and connect them with global value chains.’
Jiyoon KIM, KOICA Director-General for Multilateral Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance, said: ‘On behalf of KOICA, I would like to congratulate on the initiation of the SheTrades West Africa project in a close cooperation between KOICA and ITC. I believe that this project can improve women’s livelihoods in four countries by supporting to create more inclusive value chains. Also I am looking forward to strengthening our partnership between KOICA and ITC through this first collaborative project.’
A lack of opportunities for women in Africa’s agricultural sector is limiting productivity, trade performance and economic growth. While women in West African countries make up a majority of the agricultural labour force, they often have less control over and access to productive resources, as well as over their own incomes.
The four countries selected for the project – Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – all rank in the bottom 10% of the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Programme. Poverty rates hovers above 45% and they face significant food-security risks. Rural population, above all women, are particularly vulnerable.
Through SheTrades West Africa, ITC and KOICA will address the economic and social barriers facing women across the region. Women participating in the project will receive technical training, to help them increase the value of their products and create new market linkages. The project will also seek to establish a more inclusive policy environment and develop a supportive ecosystem for women farmers and SMEs.