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Role of FAO-IAFN collaborative launch of Women's Accelerator Mentorship Programme in Africa

Gender equality and women empowerment is central to FAO’s mandate to achieve food security for all and reduce rural poverty, which is why the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN) joined forces in 2022, to launch a pilot Accelerator Mentorship Programme

The programme supports African women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the agrifood system, providing them with the tools and resources necessary to grow their enterprises and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace, while also addressing the key challenges and constraints they face in their businesses. 

The number of women working in entrepreneurial activities is higher in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than in any other part of the world. Women entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture drive sustainable development and play a critical role in building more inclusive and prosperous societies.

The main objective of the jointly-led Accelerator Mentorship Programme is to foster a selected number of women entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa with one-to-one mentorship with a panel of experts who are leading women entrepreneurs from around the globe, using a structure through which participants can interact and learn from the expert panel, as well as to provide them with access to knowledge and tools necessary to grow their enterprises and adapt to an ever-changing marketplace. 

The programme provides the following opportunities for women entrepreneurs:

• One-to-one mentorships and coaching opportunities

• A series of tailor-made trainings to enhance hard skills from a selection of available topics such as Business Development and Marketing, Leadership and Human Resources, and Access to Finance

• Knowledge exchange, networking and peer-learning opportunities

• Access/ links to tools developed by FAO, IAFN and other institutions 

The programme has been operational over a period of six months, from October 2022 to March 2023. When the programme began in October 2022, a cohort of 50 female entrepreneurs operating in the agrifood sector in the Sub-Saharan Africa region were selected to participate in the first year 

Participants were selected from an open call for expression of interest, by a panel of experts from FAO and IAFN, and the programme mentors. The CONNECT Portal will be regularly featuring stories of the women who took part in the accelerator programme.