When Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja-Kuye started Nigeria’s first vertical farming company she already had years of experience advising governments under her belt – yet as a woman, she still struggled to be taken seriously.
“In the beginning, even my staff, when they first come on board, are more likely to listen to my husband before me,” said the founder of Fresh Direct Nigeria, which grows vegetables hydroponically – farming in water instead of soil.
“These challenges make you hungrier,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Women make up nearly half the global workforce in farming, but many say their contribution has long gone unrecognised, particularly in developing countries.
Adelaja-Kuye is among a small but growing group of women entrepreneurs who are helping to change that, many using new technologies to produce food in more sustainable ways.
The 35-year-old, who started farming in the heart of the Nigerian capital Abuja in 2015 and uses shipping containers, said she wanted to support those who did not conform to the stereotype of the poor, uneducated subsistence farmer.
Four of the six staff at her farm are young women who previously worked as household helps.
“I want young people to see agriculture as a solution for them, one that makes good money,” she said. “If I’m changing the narrative of who a farmer is, I’m happy with that.”
She has that in common with Awa Caba, a computer scientist who co-founded a platform for Senegalese women farmers to sell their produce online.
Caba’s company Sooretul – meaning “it’s not far” – sells more than 400 products from about 2,800 rural women online.
“My background is not agriculture,” she said. “But it’s more sensitive for me to use my knowledge as a woman to target underprivileged groups, and give them more access and income.
“My vision is to have a pan-African e-commerce platform where you can find different agricultural products produced by women in Africa.”
Sarah Nolet, who works as a consultant to the agricultural technology industry, said more and more women were getting involved in the growing sector.
“When you take agriculture, it’s male dominated, and tech is often male dominated,” said Nolet, the Sydney-based chief executive of AgThentic, which consults on innovation in food and farming.
“So you would think AgTech would be worse. But we actually see, especially in Australia, a lot of female founders starting AgTech companies.”
Globally, women make up 43 per cent of the agricultural workforce, but they tend to have less access to land, credit, technical advice and quality seeds, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, they could increase yields by 20% to 30%, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said.
But much depends on having the right role models.
“We have to change mindsets and show women in lucrative, high-value markets, with access to technology, and innovation,” said Tacko Ndiaye, the FAO’s senior gender officer.
In 2018, companies working on food and agricultural technology globally raised a record $16.9 billion, according to AgFunder, a San Francisco-based online investment platform for these businesses.
Yet estimates based on available gender information show only 4 per cent of that went to start-ups with one or more female founders, said Louisa Burwood-Taylor, head of media & research at AgFunder.
“However you slice the data, there’s clearly a very big gap in the level of female entrepreneurship in food and agriculture technology,” she said.
“The reasons for this gap are broad including educational and investment biases, so we are investigating how they can be overcome.”
Benjamina Bollag, who co-founded Britain-based Higher Steaks with stem cell scientist Stephanie Wallis, is among those who did receive funding – at least Sh20.5 million (USD200,000) since setting up 18 months ago.
Higher Steaks hopes to bring laboratory-grown pork to consumers within the next three years.
Several companies are seeking to produce cell-based meat, promising less waste and dramatically fewer greenhouse gas emissions than livestock, but most are focusing on beef or poultry.
Bollag said being a woman in a male-dominated industry had its difficulties, but added, “there are times when it was helpful too, where people were like, ‘actually, we want to diversify so we will pick you’.”
Ensuring women’s voices are heard in farming was a key motivation for Rose Funja, whose company uses aerial surveillance to help farmers in Tanzania avoid crop losses to insects, disease and other pests.
Funja, one of the country’s only female drone pilots, said she made a point of going to farms in person because that was the best way to meet the women who worked on cultivating the crop while the men tended to focus on sales.
“They let me know what their actual needs are and how these technologies can help them. So we have been able to have very good conversations with them as compared to men,” she said.
“They (the women) say they feel safe to talk to another woman about their needs
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.