"Empowering Market Actors" Learning Series: Gender and Social Inclusion
In Rwanda, 72,000 agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) present a major opportunity to effect change in the sector and spur broad-based economic growth inclusive of smallholder farmers. Over the past five years, the USAID/Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth project (PSDAG) has explored, developed, and refined its multi-pronged approaches to helping increase smallholder incomes by promoting private sector investment in Rwanda.
The cornerstone of PSDAG’s success in improving local private sector partners’ market viability has been a US$5 million Value Chain Competitiveness Fund (VCCF), through which the project identified SME partners and provided co-investment grants that allow them to invest in technology upgrades and strengthen relationships between themselves, producers, investors, and financial institutions. The VCCF was utilized to reduce risk and accelerate private sector investment; help partners pilot new technologies and business models; support capacity building via knowledge transfer; facilitate increased access to finance in the sector; and enable SMEs and associations to strengthen organizational and advocacy skills. PSDAG has partnered with over 50 SMEs, 92 cooperatives, and four civil society associations to address their investment and advocacy challenges.
Through this five-part Agrilinks Learning Series, we will share some of our key thinking, processes, and lessons learned related to Cooperative Professionalization, Access to Finance, Social Inclusion, Business Development Services, and Public-Private Dialogue. We hope that donors, governments, and partners will find these learnings useful as they design and implement their own efforts moving forward.
Gender and Social Inclusion
Agriculture is a main source of employment, income, and nutrition for women, youth, and persons with disabilities (PWD) in Rwanda. Despite these groups’ prevalence in Rwandan agriculture, issues such as lack of control over land, lack of access to credit, and an inability to ascend to leadership positions within families, cooperatives, associations, and other entities remain barriers to their equitable and profitable engagement in the sector. PSDAG interventions endeavored to ameliorate those constraints and capitalize on women, youth, and PWD-specific opportunities through a number of independent but mutually reinforcing Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) activities.
The attached PSDAG Learning Brief highlights the key takeaways from our December 2018 convening of stakeholders in Kigali, Rwanda, and summarizes PSDAG’s approach to increasing gender, youth, and PWD inclusion, its challenges, and its results.