Improving opportunities for women in smallholder-based supply chains

Supply chain

Photo: Kraig Peel/LCC CRSP

This is a business case and practical guide for food companies looking to improve opportunities for women in smallholder-based supply chains.

Why is the guide important?

Women are less likely to benefit from companies’ smallholder sourcing and support programs than men. However, several leading global food companies have started to recognize that improving opportunities for women in smallholder-based supply chains would not only help achieve social responsibility aims; it could also deliver commercial benefits by improving productivity, quality, and future viability of key smallholder crops.

This guide explores the business case for food companies to support women in smallholder-based supply chains, and it seeks to provide good practice guidance about how companies can best deliver this support.

Who is the guide for?

This guide is for practitioners, private sector and food companies that have smallholder producers in their supply chains and that actively engage with these smallholders.

Countries of focus: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ghana.

How can I use the guide?

The guide focuses on increasing women’s participation in existing smallholder programs. It is structured around different smallholder programs that food companies are already engaged in, such as smallholder sourcing schemes (including outgrower programs), technical training and other production inputs, sustainability certification schemes and social or integrated community development projects.

Each company can locate the guidance areas most relevant to its project portfolio. An overview of each section, including an indication of which types of companies and whom within a company each section is most relevant to, is provided.

Overall, this guide sets out the business case for action; provides practical guidance about what food companies can do to encourage greater participation of, and support for, women in their smallholder-based supply chains; and presents over 40 good practice examples and seven in-depth case studies to illustrate and support this guidance.

When and how was it developed?

The guide was developed based on research commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation carried out between July 2009 and March 2010. These included internet research, a review of existing international development literature, telephone and face-to-face interviews with representatives of 11 international food companies, field visits to Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Drafts of the guide were reviewed by representatives from nine international food companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and 10 other international development organizations.

Where can I get the guide? Who can I contact?

You can download the guide here (4.94MB).