Bridging the financing gap in agriculture value chains




Photo by Ida Horner : Ruhanga SW Uganda

This was the topic for discussion this week over at Business Fights Poverty following an event hosted at Citi Bank in London on Monday 11 Feb 2013.

What was interesting for me is the discussions on development are changing in the sense that development folk appreciate that issues of development cannot be addressed in isolation.

In particular Dougie Brew from Unilever acknowledged the fact that Unilever is best at Business and will not be drawn into providing social services as someone else is best placed to provide these. I didn’t take this to mean that Unilever do not care about the welfare of the communities within which they work, instead that Unilever recognises the fact that their skills set isn’t best placed to deliver social services. 

The key message during the evening was that, the picture in the field is more of a mosaic where various entities, individuals, governments etc come together to bring about results that impact development. In my view this is  an important development,  we need focus our efforts and resources on collaborative or multilateral working for greater impact.

Back to the question of financing for smallholder farmers, one of the biggest huddles they face is landownership, or rather the failure to prove that they own the land they farm. This in turn means that they have no security  as the land can be ceased, in turn they cannot use the land as collateral to asking cheap funding at the banks. The banks in turn cannot take risks upon farmers. I met one such farmer in Masindi NW Uganda and in this post he told me about the reality of their situation

Other challenges faced by smallholder farmers are to do with climate change, fires due to very hot weather and mudslides due to heavy rains have become common occurrences, Smallholder are hardly equipped to deal with such events.


The message from the meeting was clear, money is important to enable farmers to scale their enterprises but it isn’t the be all!

The issues that face smallholder farmers looking to join value chains are complex and need all of our collective efforts, skills and resources.

We will continue this conversation in Kampala on 2/3/13 join us there if you can



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Bridging the Gap for African Women In Business

Bridging the Gap for African Women in Business meeting is convened by Ida Horner of Ethnic Supplies and the Trustees of the Charity Let Them Help Themselves out of Poverty a community development and UK Registered, ahead of International Women’s Day 2013.


The meeting focuses on the Supply chains of Multi National Corporations (MNCs) and brings together Business Executives from MNCs, women who run Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in East Africa, Donors and academics.


According to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) Women account for 60% of the world’s working poor but own less than 10% of the world’s property. Discriminatory practices at workplaces, in regulation and in the home stifle women’s entrepreneurial drive. Investing in women can be transformational.

Whilst Research commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that many international food companies could improve crop productivity and quality, grow the smallholder supply base and improve access to high value markets when they increase women participation


However in spite of such evidence problems for African Women in business persist and the same research identifies some of the challenges faced by women in the agriculture sector but these problems could be true for other sectors


1. Fewer women are members of company contract farming schemes than men

2. Many companies source from established producer groups, yet women are typically underrepresented in both membership and governance of these groups

3. On male owned farms, female family members do much of the work, yet receive little of the income from crop sales, and have little say about how that income is spent

4. Women are much less likely than men to benefit from technical training and extension programs

5. Sustainability certification schemes are also less likely to benefit women than men


Within that context the meeting will explore the opportunities that exist for African Women to join the supply chains of MNCs as well as the business case for women being part of such supply chains both as suppliers of goods and services.


The findings from this event will be fed back to Business Fights Poverty a network of Business Professionals, Multinational companies, Academics and Donors. The findings will also inform a separate piece of work that is underway at the Centre for Africa Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London



Events structure

The event in Uganda will be will be split into two sessions,

1. The morning session will be for invited guests only. The session will focus on equipping delegates with practical skills in the following areas; use of Social Media as a marketing tool, networking skills for business success

2. The afternoon session is a business discussion and will feature two panel sessions;

a. The first panel will comprise of female Business Executives who will explore the challenges they face in getting women to supply into MNCs



Dr. Maggie Kigozi- Director, Crown Beverages
Olive Kigongo- President, Uganda Chamber of Commerce and Managing Director, Amagara Skin Care
Amina Hersi Moghe – Proprietor, Kingstone Enterprises Limited
Ms. Cornelia K. Sabiiti – Executive Director, Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority
Dorothy Tuma – Consultant, DMT Consult Ltd


b. The second panel will comprise of East African women in Business who are successfully supplying into MNCs




Jennifer Mwijukye – Managing Director, Unifreight Cargo Handling Services
Maria Odido Difonzo – Chief Executive Officer, Bee Natural Uganda Ltd
Julian Omalla Adyeri – Managing Director Delight Uganda Limited
Josephine Okot – Managing Director Victoria Seeds Ltd
Prudence Ukkonika- Managing Director K-roma Enterprises
Hope Kabirisi – Managing Director, Perfect Roses Farm Ltd

The event is sponsored by



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African inspired Christmas gifts

If like me you are grappling with what to buy your loved ones for Xmas especially those who seemingly have every thing I hoping that this selection of gifts from our African artisans will inspire you


For the table- Our Table Runners are hand woven by female artisans in Mukono district Central Uganda, the runners combine two textiles raffia and cotton and are suitable for In or Outdoors.The set comprises 6 Place Mats and one Table Runner. Can Be wiped clean with a damp cloth

This shawl, or “lamba” in Malagasy, is handwoven by women artisans from the Manandriana area of Madagascar, It is women from 100% wild Madgascarn silk usingtraditional equipment and spinning methods.

The silk comes from endemic wild silkworms called Borocera madagascariensis, which are found mainly in the tapia forests of this region.

The unique dyes are vegetable and mineral based. It takes the artisans a whole week to spin and weave this shawl.

For Him/Her or the children-This African Tote is made from the finest organic Tanzanian cotton by artisans in Dar es Salaam. It is hand decorated with the African Big five and savannah scenery

Take it to work or shopping whatever you do enjoy it



For Her- Is she heading out to sunnier climes, then this handicrafted hat is the perfect gift. It is handmade Nivo our Madagascan artisan from raffia. It is dramatic and provides shelter from intense sun and heat, so you have no need to carry an umbrella. Its size means that it protects your neck and shoulders from sunburn and it folds easily for travelling and retains shape

For the Hamper- If you are putting together a Christmas Hamper, this is a perfect basket for you. Handmade by our artisans in Ruhanga from locally harvested papyrus this basket is traditionally used to process grain and cereal. You could also use it as a fruit basket and if you have a wood fire you will find this basket useful for displaying your logs

For the table or Bathroom- Handmade by our artisans in Ruhanga this pretty basket can be used to decorate the table or for storage. It is handmade from papyrus and used plastic sacks by women of Ruhanga SW Uganda, this basket is a fantastic addition to any dressing table or bathroom. It is traditionally used to store or serve food.




All these items gifts and others are available from our online shop

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