The SheTrades Initiative is on a mission to help connect three million women entrepreneurs in Agriculture by 2021.
The United Nations and World Trade Organization have come together to create the SheTrades initiative in order to create a sustainable economic impact globally. By helping women entrepreneurs, buyers and partners connect, collaborate and develop lasting relationships, SheTrade can empower women with the resources they need to overcome gender inequality in our food supply market.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with three powerful women who are helping spearhead this Initiative, Susan Mugure Wambugu, Frederine Derlot, and Lizbeth Becerra.
Susan is the Agriculture Sector Specialist for SheTrades in the Commonwealth at the International Trade Centre in Kenya where she helps small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women in Kenya connect with international buyers and markets.
Frédérine is the fresh fruits and vegetables expert for the International Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland and specializes in market linkages, coaching and connecting exporters from developing countries to international buyers and markets. She’s worked for 15 years as an international buyer for the European food industry and is very involved with trade-related technical assistance projects.
Lizbeth is an Associate Programme Officer at the International Trade Centre in Geneva, Switzerland and helps monitor and evaluate the project implementation with SheTrades Initiative.
“[Women] are 50% of the agriculture workforce and it’s even higher in Africa, for example, where 70% of food production is done by women, and 80-90% of processing and storage is done by women.” – Frédérine Derlot (9:20)
Clearly, women are a critical part in farming around the world, but the agricultural ecosystem is suffering in developing countries because women aren’t given the same opportunities as men. With SheTrades, women are able to connect virtually with other women-owned businesses, mentors, and women in the supply chain so they can have the knowledge and support necessary to grow their businesses.
Women entrepreneurs from all over the world are welcome to join and they’ll gain access to quality data, help to gain government contracts, networking opportunities to create business deals and assistance starting and growing their business. This is the fostering women need to exchange new ideas, and get support with important decisions like handling difficult customers, production issues and specific transactions.
Why focus on women?
Women are key components and agents of change in food production and farming. Gender equality is more than essential for the security, production, nutrition and supply of our food globally. The United Nations has 17 sustainable goals, one of them being gender equality, which act as a blueprint for our collective sustainable future. Women and children are at the center of this agenda, not only because children are our future, but many countries are not reaching key performance metrics primarily because women don’t have equal access there.
Gender equality in agriculture isn’t the only UN Sustainable Goal SheTrades helps achieve. Other goals include:
- No poverty
- Zero hunger
- Good health and wellbeing
- Quality education
- Gender equality
- Clean water and sanitization
- Affordable and clean energy
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, innovation and infrastructure
- Reduced inequalities
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Responsible consumption and production
- Climate action
- Life below water
- Life on land
- Peace, justice and strong institutions
“Empowering women to trade benefits everyone.” – Liz Becerra (5:19-5:22)
Because of COVID-19, the global, regional and local demand completely collapsed for food service.
Not only has the safety and quality been at risk for our health, planting and harvesting haven’t been happening properly because of import and export delays, farmers getting sick and cash flow becoming scarce. Transport of food products has been hurt without as many passenger planes flying, coffee farmers haven’t been able to get their coffee into ports and many farmers have been at risk because of their age.
Our experts estimate that it will take months for agriculture to recover which is where SheTrades comes in handy, teaching members everything from cash flow management, how to effectively lead during a crisis and helping women create partnerships that will create prosperous ripple effects in economies globally.
The great thing for the women involved in SheTrades is that everything is right at their fingertips virtually, so although the global economy has been affected, the learning, growth, and networking of women in agriculture hasn’t slowed down.
“Women invest 90% of their income back into their families, compared to only 35% from men.” – Frédérine Derlot (25:30)
What Susan, Frederine and Liz want to help women understand is that even if you’re not professionally involved in food and farming, you create just as much of an impact when you make informed shopping decisions. By understanding where your food is shipped from, where your products are created and the developing countries you are supporting with your purchases, you can make a difference. Your choices act as your voice of what global economies you support, and even the smallest purchase can impact developing families and communities.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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