Making Digital Platforms Work for Women in Rural Agricultural Livelihoods
The emergence of digital platforms for agriculture (AgTechs) offers an important opportunity to help rural women seize opportunities to improve their livelihoods. But despite their potential, most AgTechs struggle to engage rural women: while women represent 40-50 percent of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, they make up only 25 percent of AgTech users. And when AgTechs do reach rural women, low usage rates suggest that they are not sufficiently serving them, thus limiting the potential for meaningful impact on women’s lives. Synthesizing insights from research conducted with four digital platforms operating in Nigeria, Kenya, and India, this research highlights key areas where platforms have started incorporating gender-forward business practices with the potential to directly impact rural women.
Building on recent research conducted by ISF Advisors and the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, Caribou Digital and Value for Women, and IFC, the primary objectives of this work were to:
- Formalize the gender impact thesis to understand how platform-specific responses can unlock social and economic value.
- Identify best practices that platforms have implemented to better reach and impact rural women users.
- Provide guidance to key stakeholders on how to prioritize interventions to improve platform services for rural women.
This report also outlines the four most important building blocks for platforms to improve engagement of, and impact on rural women and defines a set of indicators for gender-forward business practices that platforms can adopt to create shared value for platforms and the women that engage with them. Finally, this report outlines four key entry points for investors and donors that want to support digital platforms to become gender-forward.
This research was originally published on CGAP's FinDev Gateway, and is a supplement to the CGAP Reading Deck "Financial Solutions for Women in Rural and Agricultural Livelihoods" (November 2021).
Anne is a Portfolio Lead at Value for Women. She specifically works with development finance institutions, investors and financial service providers to apply a gender lens to their investment and decision-making processes. She has previously worked at the MasterCard Foundation Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab, and at One Acre Fund. Anne holds a master’s degree in International Security from Sciences-Po, Paris.
Katie is a seasoned international development professional with expertise in gender equality, small and medium enterprise investment, and impact measurement. Katie has previously led gender, impact investing and entrepreneurship program design and research initiatives at Root Capital, Mathematica, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, the Center for International Development at Harvard University, Oxfam and Instiglio. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University.
Matt Shakhovskoy is a Senior Advisor to ISF, a multi-donor effort designed to demonstrate how specific products and services can expand the reach of financing for smallholder farmers. Over the past ten years Matt has worked in the areas of private equity and development advisory for a number of leading organizations including Agis Investments, Dalberg, and Deloitte. Matt holds a MSc in Sustainable Development from the University of London and Bachelors of Business and Economics from the University of Queensland.
Sarah is a Senior Associate at ISF, based in Washington, D.C. She is responsible for research, analysis, and project support. She is skilled in data analysis, human centered design, and project management. Sarah holds a B.S. in Foreign Service, with a concentration in Global Business, from Georgetown University.