Globally, women farmers struggle to access land, credit, and training and bear a heavy double burden of farm and household responsibilities. These gender inequalities pose a serious risk to women farmers in the face of climate change.
Globally, women farmers struggle to access land, credit, and training and bear a heavy double burden of farm and household responsibilities. These gender inequalities pose a serious risk to women farmers in the face of climate change. Growing evidence shows that women’s limited access to farm assets, services, and decision-making power makes them more vulnerable than men to changing climatic conditions.
As key market connectors and service providers in rural communities, small and growing agricultural businesses (agri-SGBs) are poised to tackle both of these critical issues. That’s why, in 2019, Root Capital piloted an innovative approach to strengthening women’s inclusion and climate resilience, in partnership with coffee cooperatives in Mexico and Central America. The subsequent evaluation of this intervention, conducted by Value for Women, uncovered key impacts, challenges, and recommendations for how to best leverage the power of agri-SGBs to address the urgent challenges of gender inequality and climate change.
“Before the workshop, women members were not clear about the impacts of climate change on their crops; after the workshop, they identified those impacts, such as that the harvest is coming earlier, that there is not a uniform ripening as before. Now they want to learn more about the impact of climate change on their plots to mitigate it.” -Finca Triunfo Verde staff
Gender Equity Grants (GEGs) are a cornerstone innovation of Root Capital's Women in Agriculture Initiative (WAI). The GEG program was launched in Kenya in 2016 to help agri-SGBs improve gender inclusion within their operations and communities—through a combination of technical support and a one-time grant to offset the initial costs of implementing gender-inclusive policies and programs. Root Capital theorized that the financial incentive of a GEG, combined with targeted capacity building, would create institutional momentum for mainstreaming gender inclusion over the long term. The first set of GEGs produced important benefits for the businesses, farmers, and workers, leading Root Capital to subsequently expand the program to additional geographies and value chains.
In 2019, Root Capital piloted a new set of Gender Equity Grants focused on helping agri-SGBs strengthen the climate resilience of women farmers. Root Capital worked with three coffee cooperatives: Finca Triunfo Verde in Mexico, AMPROCAL in Honduras, and Asociación Chajulense in Guatemala. Through a series of participatory diagnostics, in-depth trainings on gender equity and climate resilience, and project design workshops, Root Capital helped the cooperatives develop initiatives tailored to their unique climate and gender challenges. All three cooperatives used their GEGs to build the gender inclusion and climate resilience capacity of their staff and women members through technical assistance, credit funds, demonstration farms, and other initiatives. They also identified the most economically and environmentally vulnerable women in their member bases, and helped these women implement climate-smart practices on their farms.
Key Findings & Challenges
“I have already started seeing changes. Before, when I didn’t used to add compost, it was different, now the plants are growing more and healthier.” -Woman member, Asociación Chajulense
To understand the effectiveness of these grants, Root Capital partnered with Value for Women to conduct an evaluation with two of the three participating agri-SGBs: Finca Triunfo Verde and Asociación Chajulense. Value for Women employed a mixed-methods methodology, collecting quantitative and qualitative data from cooperative leadership, staff, agricultural technicians, and members, as well as Root Capital GEG staff, prior to and at the close of each intervention. This evaluation did not seek to establish rigorous causal impacts of the GEG program, but to identify important changes that occurred within SGBs and among farmers over the Gender Equity Grant period. The evaluation found that:
However, the evaluation also uncovered key challenges:
Recommendations for Philanthropic & Business Partners
“The workshop helped us understand that men and women are equal, and that we as women, can also participate and make decisions, not only men can participate.” Woman member, Finca Triunfo Verde
For stakeholders working to promote gender inclusion and climate resilience via agri-SGBs, Value for Women developed important recommendations to improve the efficacy of GEG-style interventions:
Action to build gender equity and women’s climate resilience is urgently needed, especially in rural communities. Agri-SGBs represent a powerful platform through which to channel and scale innovative programming on these and other issues. By leveraging the power of small businesses, we can collectively build inclusive rural resilience.
Value for Women and Root Capital wish to thank the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and the International Development Research Centre for the funding that made this work possible.
Isabel DoCampo is Senior Impact Analyst at Root Capital
Katie Naeve is Director of Impact and Partnerships & Lead, Women in Agriculture Initiative at Root Capital
Luis Marquez is Gender & Business Advisor at Value for Women