When women challenge, agbiz gets going

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The motto of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Choose to Challenge”. To mark the day, we are featuring some of our work with women in two African countries. Here we meet an entrepreneur who chooses to challenge in rural Kenya.  

“Everybody in the agriculture business faces a myriad of challenges. Woman encounter even more of them!”, says Ann Mwangi. “Because I am a lady, I am considered physically weak. Male farmers lack confidence in female entrepreneurs, especially if we are young. They think a young woman like me cannot provide the best solutions they need, unlike our male equals. It takes time for us to build confidence and transform farming for better results.”

Ann knows what she is talking about. She originally trained as a veterinary expert. Today she owns Greenlife Farmers’ Hub in Kenya’s Nyandarua County. With her professional background, she is currently exploring opportunities to offer additional animal health support from her Greenlife shop. “We women can do anything our male counterparts can!”, she declares proudly.  

Ann started her Farmers’ Hub in April 2020. She now has more than 100 local farmers on her books. She supports them with reliable input supplies and farming advice. Ann is determined not just to boost farming as a tradition in her area, but also as a business. “Thanks to the Syngenta Foundation, our farmers here now have access to new and better farming technologies, including new seed potato varieties”, she notes.    

“The Foundation has been of great benefit to me”, Ann continues. “I am now linked to partners who have become efficient providers of inputs needed by the farmers I serve. This has let me grow my business,  from just scraping along at the beginning to good sales and efficient aggregation today.”

On International Women’s Day – and all the rest of the year – Ann Mwangi has a message to fellow rural women: “I choose to challenge. We don’t have to fear anything, not even age! Farming is not simply a traditional habit, nor is it just ‘dirty’. Agriculture is a business. Adopting new technology and methods makes it more fun. To women with farming passion, I say: Be confident, pursue it with all your energy, with the little capital at hand. You are feeding the nation and at the same time making money.”

In many emerging economies, women play a central role in ensuring food security and economic growth. “But the truth is, they have to work twice as hard as men to succeed in agribusiness”, Ann comments. According to the FAO, women comprise 43 percent of agricultural labor in developing countries, yet have less access to productive resources, markets, and services than do men. “Closing the gender gap would significantly uplift the agriculture sector and society at large”, declares Jackline Chemtai, our Diversity and Inclusion Champion in Kenya. “I choose to challenge gender bias in land rights, access to productive resources,  unpaid labor, and decision-making.”

The Syngenta Foundation applauds all brave women rising to agribusiness opportunities!