Platforms that help women entrepreneurs to make connections can play a critical role in supporting them to build business skills, overcome hurdles in accessing markets and finance, and achieve economies of scale. Forging links with other agripreneurs - and with more experienced business contacts - can make all the difference between success and failure, say ACP agribusiness leaders.

Irene Ochem is emphatic about the value of women linking up with each other, as they seek to launch and develop an agribusiness.

“I would say that growing your agribusiness is about networking, networking and networking,” she said, during a break from a CTA-led workshop Making next generation agriculture work for women. “If you have a network platform, you can share your experiences and ideas, and you have opportunities for partnerships and collaborations.”

The South Africa-based Africa Women Innovation Forum (AWIEF), of which Ochem is Founder and Chief Executive Officer, brings together women entrepreneurs from across the continent. It has set up monthly business breakfast gatherings, where members can meet to exchange ideas, challenges and suggestions. Its annual conference and exhibition, staged for the first time in November 2018 in Cape Town, is expected to become a regular event, connecting policy-makers, private sector service providers, and of course women entrepreneurs themselves. For those living further afield, AWIEF recently launched Ongea, an online community, so that conversations can take place from afar.

“Rural women and women from disadvantaged communities need more opportunities to network and be put into contact with other businesswomen, so they can connect, and also get inspired by other women who have achieved success,” said Ochem.

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