Checking in With Prize-Winning Women Business Owners
Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation helps women succeed as entrepreneurs around the globe by providing them with support services to commercialize agricultural technologies and grow their businesses. Six months ago, two of our clients won the Feed the Future Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) Prize for their promising business ventures.
The AWE prize aimed to address the financial access gap that affects women-owned, Africa-based businesses. Partnering for Innovation designed the solicitation, evaluated the applications, and provided investor readiness services for the two winners, Edith Wheatland of Rockland Farms and Affiong Williams of ReelFruit.
We recently caught up with Edith and Affiong to discuss their growing businesses and the changes they’ve seen since the award.
Edith’s Path: Empowering Other Women
Edith Wheatland established her poultry company in Ghana with 8,000 egg layers six years ago. She now has 60,000 layers and employs 35 people, many of them female outgrowers receiving inputs on credit.
Edith received support from Partnering for Innovation in developing a detailed financial plan and an investment memo to perfect her business pitch to potential investors. “We can provide accurate information for investors, so they can make an informed decision after reading about Rockland Farms,” she said.
These acceleration services gave Rockland Farms the financial traction it needed to expand its operations. Three international investment companies and three financial institutions in Ghana are interested in investing in Edith’s poultry production company. With the money raised, Edith plans to expand operations to meet increasing demand for eggs by offering inputs on credit to additional women’s groups and establishing an egg processing plant in Ghana.
Edith discussed the challenges female entrepreneurs face on a Feed the Future blog post.
Affiong’s Path: A Step-Up Approach to Growth
Affiong Williams is the owner of ReelFruit, a dried fruit and nuts packaging and distribution company in Nigeria that employs more than 40 full-time workers. Affiong is raising capital to expand her production capacity domestically to serve more local and international clients. She already retails on Amazon and reaching buyers in the US and EU.
At first, Affiong pursued smaller sums of capital from angel investors to achieve certain growth milestones, but she is now seeking capital from larger institutions to scale.
Affiong explained there is great value in supporting female entrepreneurs who so often lack the access that male business owners have. “Women’s businesses are often not seen as future corporations. Women tend to run smaller businesses, or lifestyle businesses, and they do not have the tools or networks to pitch their businesses as good investments,” she said.
But with support from Partnering for Innovation and the AWE Prize, Affiong is challenging this norm. The acceleration services she received through Partnering for Innovation have been instrumental in increasing the capacity of her management team, which is mostly comprised of women, and in packaging ReelFruit’s five-year history into a condensed, impactful narrative to attract investors of all sizes.
Affiong shared her journey of entrepreneurship in this Feed the Future blog post.
With women like Affiong and Edith at the helm, entrepreneurship in Africa has a new face. Partnering for Innovation is proud to have worked with 98,812 female business owners, producers, and community leaders in 2018.