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Staff Reporter | 15 February 2023

Barbra Muzata from Corteva Agriscience with the 35 #SoilSistas selected in 2022.

Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

It is the chance of a lifetime, but you will have to hurry with your last-minute application to be among the 30 women farmers and agripreneurs selected to a year-long programme offered by Corteva Agriscience and the Gordon Institute of Business Science.

The initiative, now in its third year, aims to empower women in agriculture to become successful farmers, small-business owners, and providers for their families.

In ongoing efforts to sow the seeds of change, Corteva Agriscience is again working with the Entrepreneurship Development Academy (EDA) at GIBS to implement an immersive, tailor-made programme, aimed at advancing the interests of women farmers. The hybrid, 12-month course equips women agripreneurs with the entrepreneurial, business, and leadership skills they need to operate and sustain their agricultural enterprises profitably.

In 2021, during the pilot launch of the initiative, 33 women agripreneurs graduated out of a class of 36 (selected from among 500 applicants), with the programme achieving a high success rate of 92%. In the midway assessment of the 2022 programme, 95% of the women agripreneurs reported that the course challenged them to think differently about running their businesses.

The 2023 programme will seek to support 30 participants through theoretical and experiential training and will facilitate valuable networking opportunities with other farmers and experienced sector role players.

Women agripreneurs who meet the following criteria are encouraged to apply ahead of the programme kick-off in March 2023. The following criteria should be kept in mind when applying.

Applicants must:

  • be a South African citizen.

  • be at least 21 years of age.

  • be operating a business for at least two years in the agricultural sector or sub-sectors and should have growth potential.

  • employ at least one or more persons.

  • generate at least R300 000 in revenue/sales per annum (evidence will be requested from shortlisted applicants.

  • be based in Gauteng or within traveling distance to Illovo, Johannesburg. Traveling will be at your own cost. Surrounding provinces will be accepted. The programme delivery will be blended with in-person sessions in Johannesburg at your own cost.

  • have access to a computer that can be comfortably used and supported with stable Wi-Fi or data.

  • accept that the programme will be delivered in a blended format (a mix of online and in-person sessions).

  • be able to read, write and converse in English. A matric will be an advantage.

  • provide a commitment fee of R3 500 as a deposit. The full fee is refundable when successfully graduating. Early drop-out will result in the fee being forfeited.

Corteva Agriscience has committed to engaging with and supporting women in agriculture across the globe from the largest farms in the most advanced economies, to the smallest subsistence farms in developing economies.

The company proudly collaborates with local and regional communities through outreach programmes around the world, focusing efforts on empowering women, enabling youth, and engaging communities.

“Women farmers feed more than just their families and communities; their efforts help feed the world. That’s why at Corteva Agriscience, we’re continually working with women farmers to help them become successful farmers, small-business owners, and providers for their families,” said Betty Kiplagat, government and industry affairs leader for Africa and the Middle East at Corteva Agriscience.

One of the agripreneurs in the current cohort said, “The programme has gone from strength to strength since the pilot. The process begins by selecting the most promising project applications and these successful applicants will benefit from the training programme, designed, and delivered by sector experts and mentors”

In addition to this, the programme looks to ensure that women agripreneurs are equipped with the necessary skills, training and development to ensure that they run sustainable and profitable agricultural enterprises.

Safe-guarding food security

Miranda Hosking, managing executive: social education at GIBS added, “Despite women’s significant representation, it is widely acknowledged that women in the agricultural sector are not equal to their male peers in terms of economic return and employment. Research has shown that every rand in income earned by a woman achieves the same impact as R11 earned by a man.

“Studies also show that women make critical contributions to agricultural and rural economies in developing countries and that women in rural areas are often responsible for managing complex households and deriving their livelihoods from various sources. Therefore, increasing the effective participation of women in commercial agriculture will significantly enhance the potential to address food insecurity and local economic development.

“Transformation of the agriculture sector is critical to ensure that women- owned agri-businesses can thrive and become sustainable, thus enabling them to fully participate in this key economic sector.”

Applications close this week with the programme set to start in March 2023. Please note that by applying for this programme, you consent to your personal information being supplied to the GIBS EDA and Corteva Agriscience for further communication.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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