The African rural woman working within the cottage industry is often characterised by her hard work and labour-intensive efforts. She typically runs a small-scale decentralised production business, mostly operated from her home, rather than a purpose-built facility. She has little understanding of the threat and opportunities that her capability and capacity present to her business.
We at BLPARW help bring women in African communities together to form effective and efficient working groups. We offer them a structured approach to overcome their challenges and limitations. We encourage forming and joining networks structured to meet the specific objectives of members and flexible enough to adapt to members’ evolving needs. We also encourage collaboration and partnership as required. Through our partners, we provide access to finance, technology, improved processing capabilities and access to larger markets and exports.
African rural women have traditionally played a central role in the extraction of shea butter. They are actively involved right from the initial stage of gathering shea nuts through to the final stage, processing the shea nuts into butter. However, these women do not benefit enough financially from the lucrative shea trade. This is mostly due to technological and financial challenges required to derive optimal benefits.
We at BLPARW work with our partners to ensure African rural women are adequately rewarded for their investments and labour. We connect them with access to finance and introduce them to innovative techniques thus giving them strategic advantage to improve their processing techniques and reduce the time and energy they spend on the intensive activities involved.
Multi cropping mitigates the risk of crop failure, especially in irregular weather conditions. It is an effective strategy for reducing soil erosion and for diluting the chances of pest infestations. As a result, it helps farmers produce better yields; offers extra income from the sale of additional crops and improves their cash flow. Moreover, it helps reduce labour and decreases investment cost.
However, successfully implementing multiple cropping requires training and education which are often difficult for smallholder African rural women farmers to receive. BLPARW’s Multi Crop project team is engaging key stakeholders to build the capacities of up to 100,000 of these women in multi cropping strategies such as combining a deep-rooted crop with a shallow-rooted crop or planting a tall crop with a shorter crop that requires partial shade.
BLPARW will work with 5,000 smaller traders to form co-operatives to strengthen their commercial activities. Co-operatives have been successful in economic development because they operate by a broader set of values and not just by the pursuit of profit. Whilst a co-operative is first and foremost a business, it has different ethos at the heart, of which is economic fairness by ensuring equal access to supplies, services and market for their members.
We will join hands with our partners to support and engage rural women traders in Africa effectively to help make improvements that are sustainable for the long term. We understand that they have a central business challenge, collective commitment, often shared values and visions. Our holistic approach is designed to help them gain financial independence.