In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the pivotal role women play in the agri-food industry. Women are increasingly becoming a driving force in agricultural production, processing, and distribution, contributing significantly to global food security and rural development.
To further empower and support the ambitions of women in this sector, the Women Entrepreneurship Program in Agri-Food Network has emerged as a powerful and vital initiative.
After a successful pilot in 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) are continuing the mentorship program started last year to support women entrepreneurs who lead small and medium enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The program is seeking successful women business leaders and managers from around the world in diverse fields across the agrifood value chain who are willing to provide one-to-one mentorship (virtual) for six months, meeting approximately once/month.
Mentors will be paired with a participant based on the needs of the participant, such as value-added processing, packaging, food service, retail, marketing, distribution, and digital or green farming solutions. The mentorship is scheduled to start in October 2023.
Your Role as a Mentor
Being a mentor as a woman in an agri-food network entrepreneurship program holds immense significance in fostering the growth and success of aspiring female entrepreneurs. As a mentor, you play a crucial role in empowering women in the agri-food sector and driving positive change in various ways:
- Representation and Inspiration: As a woman mentor, you provide a strong and relatable role model for aspiring entrepreneurs. Your success story and journey serve as an inspiration, demonstrating that it is possible for women to thrive in the traditionally male-dominated agri-food industry.
- Building Confidence: Many women in the agri-food network might face self-doubt and lack confidence due to societal norms and gender biases. Your guidance and support can boost their self-assurance, enabling them to overcome challenges and take bold steps towards entrepreneurship.
- Knowledge Sharing: As an experienced professional in the agri-food sector, you possess valuable knowledge and insights. Sharing your expertise, lessons learned, and practical tips can significantly accelerate the learning curve of aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls.
- Networking Opportunities: Your established network in the agri-food industry can be invaluable for mentees. Introducing them to potential partners, clients, and investors can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations, giving their ventures a competitive edge.
- Skill Development: By serving as a mentor, you can identify the specific skills and areas where your mentees need improvement. Tailoring guidance and providing targeted skill development can enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities, making them more resilient and adaptable.
- Encouraging Risk-taking and Innovation: As a mentor, you can nurture a culture of risk-taking and innovation among women entrepreneurs. Encouraging them to think outside the box and pursue creative solutions can lead to the development of unique agri-food products and services.
- Navigating Gender Barriers: Women often encounter unique challenges in the agri-food industry, such as unequal access to resources and biases in decision-making. As a mentor, you can offer strategies and support to help mentees navigate these barriers, promoting gender equality and inclusivity.
- Long-term Impact: The knowledge and skills imparted to your mentees can have a lasting impact beyond the program. Empowered and successful women entrepreneurs can become mentors themselves, creating a positive cycle of support and empowerment within the agri-food network.
- Strengthening the Agri-food Ecosystem: By actively participating as a mentor, you contribute to building a stronger and more diverse agri-food ecosystem. Increased representation of women entrepreneurs brings fresh perspectives, fosters innovation, and strengthens the overall industry.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor or have additional questions, please contact Lsanders@ift.org with your name, contact information, and expertise area.
Tag: Women entrepreneurship program