Food and Agriculture Organization-International Agri-Food Network (FAO-IAFN) Women’s Accelerator Mentorship Programme for Women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa

Food and Agriculture Organization-International Agri-Food Network (FAO-IAFN) Women’s Accelerator Mentorship Programme for Women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa

Food and Agriculture Organization-International Agri-Food Network (FAO-IAFN) Women’s Accelerator Mentorship Programme for Women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa

Food and Agriculture Organization-International Agri-Food Network (FAO-IAFN) Women’s Accelerator Mentorship Programme for Women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa

The number of women working in entrepreneurial activities is higher in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than in any other part of the world. Women entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture drive sustainable development and play a critical role in building more inclusive and prosperous societies. They create jobs, improve household incomes and bring in a wealth of benefits beyond economic growth.

But despite their significant contribution to the agriculture sector, rural women typically find themselves in disadvantaged positions. Compared to men, they tend to face more restricted access to productive resources and assets, capacity development, financial services and social protections. 

Gender equality and women empowerment is central to FAO’s mandate to achieve food security for all and reduce rural poverty. Ensuring gender equality and empowering women operating within the agrifood systems presents a unique opportunity to make sure that women-owned businesses are actively contributing to the agrifood systems transformation we are calling for.

That’s why in 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) joined forces to launch a pilot Accelerator Mentorship Programme to support women entrepreneurs in addressing the key challenges and constraints they face in their businesses. The programme supports African women-led Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agrifood system, providing them with the tools and resources necessary to grow their enterprises and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace.

Programme Objectives

The main objective of the jointly-led Accelerator Mentorship Programme is to foster a selected number of women entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa with one-to-one mentorship with a panel of experts who are leading women entrepreneurs from around the globe, using a structure through which participants can interact and learn from the expert panel, as well as to provide them with access to knowledge and tools necessary to grow their enterprises and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. 

Specifically, the programme aims to provide selected women entrepreneurs with: 

  • One-to-one mentorships / coaching opportunities;
  • A series of tailor-made trainings to enhance hard skills from a selection of available topics such as Business Development and Marketing, Leadership and Human Resources, and Access to Finance; 
  • Knowledge exchange, networking and peer-learning opportunities; and 
  • Access/links to tools developed by FAO, IAFN and other institutions.

I am eternally grateful for this mentorship programme, the courses and the occasional meetings. I am transformed as an individual and Savanna Circuit teams are equally benefiting from my exposure.

(Emmastella Gakuo, Co-founder and director of operationsat Savanna Circuit)

I am privileged because I believe in the power of mentorship, for I know mentorship is transformational. John Crosby says, ‘Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction’. And that’s the experience I had with my mentor through the support of the FAO-IAFN accelerator mentorship programme.

(Fatou Manneh, Founder of Jelmah Herbella)

Programme Components

The pilot programme has a duration of six months (from October 2022 to March 2023).

The Accelerator Mentorship Programme will include the following components:

  • One-on-One Mentoring: Each mentee is paired with a mentor through a matchmaking programme. This mentor is a leader/ expert in their area of action and provides personal guidance and consultation for 6 months.
  • Capacity development and tools: Tailor-made training to enhance hard skills. Each participant is expected to complete 2 mandatory courses and select at least 2 of the optional courses, according to her interests, needs and priorities. In addition, participants have access to a wide range of knowledge products and tools.
  • Workshops&Interaction with Global Leaders: Through joint workshop sessions with experts in the field, participants have access to knowledge exchange sessions, peer learning and networking with each other as well as with invited experts allowing for interactive moments. FAO and IAFN also provide guidance and dedicated workshops on how to access finance, such as on the development of business plans and/ or bankable proposals. These workshop sessions is recorded and made available to participants if they have missed a session and/or would like to refer to them subsequently. At the end of each workshop, there is an interactive time with business leaders and mentors.  

Meet the mentees

A cohort of 50 female entrepreneurs operating in the agrifood sector in the Sub-Saharan Africa region were selected to participate in the first year of the customised programme, which started in October 2022.

Participants were selected from an open call for expression of interest, by a panel of experts from FAO and IAFN, and the programme mentors.

CONNECT Portal will be regularly featuring the stories of the women who took part in the accelerator programme. You can read them here:

List of mentees:

  • Adèle Nkagha MBA – Coopérative de production agricoles nno (coopraNNO)
  • Aline Gaju – Germin8 Rwanda
  • Ama Sangare – ConfiSol
  • Aminata Karanka – Sorogbema Agricultural Company
  • Célia Chabi – KIEL BIEN-ÊTRE 
  • Chidinma Ezeh – FarmCAS
  • Corlia van Dyk – Taste Me Curry Fish
  • Damilola Adeyemi – D-Olivette Enterprise
  • Désirée Nguekadji – Biokadji
  • Dorah Kwamboka Momanyi – iPoP Africa
  • Edith Mpoto – Nkhotakota Steadfast Cooperations for Youth (NS4Y)
  • Emmastella Gakuo – Savanna Circuit 
  • Esther Unathi Sihlahla – Pella Food Garden Cooperative
  • Fatou Manneh – Jelmah Herbella
  • Feddy Tesha – Profate Investments limited 
  • Inès Mano – Nessa Bio Cosmétics and Care
  • Janefrances Nkiruka Ighosewe – Something Lite Greek Yogurt
  • Joy Munthali – Tawonga General Suppliers
  • Judith Marera – Lanforce Trading (Pvt) Ltd T/A Lanforce Energy (Pvt) Ltd
  • Kekeletso Motopi Matli – Leseli Development Resources Centre
  • Konan Jeanne Armelle Manhounou – Biosave-ci
  • Kudzai  Sigauke  – Janna Fresh Produce
  • Lea Babite – LEPAG-Boyoma SARL
  • Lilian Mpama – Lilies Innovations
  • Lilian Uwintwali – MAHWI TECH
  • Lynnet Nakidde – Bioferilizer Centre For Youth Empowermen
  • Maimbolwa Mooto – Mooto farms limited
  • Marcelline Koutatouka née Dinzébi Boukondzo – Société MkTOT0 Sarl 
  • Nadia Niwemugeni – Cupper Beans Ltd. 
  • Nankeng Yolande – Extrait Végétal Sarl 
  • Nishimwe Esther – Pristine life Ltd
  • Ogola Lois Kange – Smiley’z Mobile Kitchen Limited
  • Olapeju Umah – MYFOODANGELS
  • Oluebube Akah – Aga’s Wholesome Foods Limited  
  • Oluwaseun Sangoleye – Baby Grubz
  • Oluyemisi Iranloye – Psaltry International Company Ltd.
  • Paida Moyo – Little Blackwood farm
  • Pauline Otila – Apiculture Venture Limited
  • Precious Awesome – Awesome God Agro Allied Industries Limited
  • Rabecca Atuhaire – Agrisensor technologies
  • Rahel Heruy – Damascene Essential Oil Processing PLC  
  • Rhoda Mkumbwa – African Women in Fish Trade Network
  • Rose Kennedy – EPROKE HOLDINGS
  • Silahlekelwe Mbofana – Malila Investments T/A Tarima Vegetables
  • Thokozani Chimasula – Tac-Maz Sustainable Ventures
  • Vanessa Aisha Limann – Vanelim Enterprise
  • Vera Osei-Bonsu – Eat Smart Foods
  • ZE épouse Nlate Mengue Pulchérie Marie Charlotte – Emergenceplus

Meet the mentors

Mentors include successful/high-profile business leaders and managers, particularly women, and a panel of experts in different fields across the agrifood value chain, from FAO and IAFN members. 

List of mentors:

  • Adrienne Mollor – Ocean Spray Cooperative in Southeastern Massachusetts 
  • Alima Bawah – Cowtribe
  • Anne Sarfo – Annes Perfections 
  • Ashley Mutiso – Future Africa Forum 
  • Bertille Fages – Nuffield International
  • Celestine Habiba – Habiba Natural Care
  • Césarie Kantarama – INGABO Syndicate Farmers Union 
  • Christine Daugherty – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 
  • Donna Rosa – Efour Enterprises LLC
  • Edith Wheatland – Rockland Farms 
  • Eilene Bowland – Leprino Foods
  • Eunice Mwongera – Hillside Green
  • Hazel Awino – Agri Innovation Hub Kenya 
  • Hellen Oyare – Helena Agspace Limited
  • Jelica Kujundzic – CAFI – Commodity and Freight Integrators DMCC
  • Jenny Du – Apeel Sciences
  • Judith Bryans – Dairy UK 
  • Julia Friederike Harnal – BASF
  • Kantha Shelke – Corvus Blue LLC / Johns Hopkins University 
  • Karimi Thuranira – OCP Africa
  • Kate Dempsey – Aqua License 
  • Langelihle Simela – Absa 
  • Lorena Basso – Basso Semillas 
  • Lucy Muchoki – Pan African Agribusiness and Agroindustry Consortium (PANACC) 
  • Lynda McDonald – TetraLaval International 
  • Mamy Ingabire Muziga – Charis Unmanned Aerial Solutions Ltd 
  • Margaret Munene – Palmhouse Dairy Limited 
  • Martine Koopman – Smart Resultancy 
  • Mary Ann Sayoc – East West Seed International 
  • Monica Githige – BoP Innovation Centre Limited 
  • Onigbanjo Oluwatoyin – Augustsecrets Ltd 
  • Patience Koku – Replenish Farms
  • Rahmat Eyinfunjowo – Nourishing Africa 
  • Rita Odero – GroFin 
  • Robynne Anderson – International Agrifood Network (IAFN)
  • Ruramiso Mashumba – Mnandi Africa 
  • Ruxandra-Valentina Florescu – COFCO International 
  • Severine Jeanneau – Corteva
  • Sindhu Abbasi – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Sophie Goudard – Emerging ag inc
  • Su Kahumbu – iCow 
  • Tatiana De Paula Campos – Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters 
  • Tenemba Anna Samake – MBC Africa, ShEquity
  • Virginie Ducrot – Bayer
  • Yaa Kusi Binka – Pepper Delight Ghana

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.