The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents a landmark opportunity for substantial intra-African trade and integration of markets across 55 member states. Recognizing the immense potential of AfCFTA in transforming economies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) launched the “Empowering Women and Boosting Livelihoods through Agricultural Trade” (EWAT) program.
A key objective of EWAT is to support women producers, processors, and traders to benefit from expanded trade and participation in regional and continental agricultural value chains under AfCFTA. In its second phase of implementation, an access to finance component was introduced to build on the progress made in Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria in 2022. The access to finance component aim at facilitating financial inclusion of women-led micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the agribusiness sector. This entailed building business management capacities, investment readiness, and linkages with financial institutions.
As part of EWAT’s activities, FAO and ITC partnered with The Orbra Company to organize a tailored investment-readiness in the form of access to finance bootcamp for women agripreneurs in Nigeria. The 2-day bootcamp aimed to equip participants with practical knowledge, skills, and networks to enhance their access to finance and to enable them to leverage AfCFTA opportunities. Conceptualized as an intensive training program, the bootcamp was designed to be an immersive learning experience combining workshops, exercises, case studies, and group activities facilitated by experts.
Key outcomes from the bootcamp include enhanced financial management capacities, investment readiness, improved knowledge in the preparation of business plans, strengthened confidence in pitching abilities, and expanded networks as well as requirements for accessing grants. Participants rated the overall experience highly and found the practical knowledge gained to be invaluable.
Feedback from participants
The bootcamp received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the women entrepreneurs who participated in the bootcamp.
Here are some key quotes highlighting their experience:
“The practical sessions on financial planning and projections gave me valuable skills I can apply immediately to better manage my agribusiness."
Linda Njoku (Yiyi Nigeria Ltd.)
"The pitch training was extremely useful. I gained confidence in presenting my company and feel better prepared to approach investors."
Ibiyemi Omotade (Cass Synergy Nig. Ltd.)
"The facilitated business plan development exercises helped me think more strategically and holistically about my operations."
Asma Begum Mirza (Muhammad and Roshaneh Farms Ltd.)
"Being able to interact with fellow women entrepreneurs and learn from their experiences was a big advantage of this bootcamp."
Emem Henry (Peace-co Food Nig.)
"The expert facilitators and speakers made each topic relatable with real-world examples of agribusinesses like mine."
Obasi Omolara (Divine Fish and Farms Products)
"My biggest takeaway was understanding how to leverage digital tools and innovations to increase efficiency, reduce costs and drive growth."
Adeola Kofoworola King (Ewa Ibile Empire Ltd.)