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Demba
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In regards to your point, illiteracy may be seen as an impediment for the AfDB to unveil a sustainable gender equality in agriculture finance, even though the premise might hold in some short term perspectives, I do believe that illiteracy is central to the question of access to finance overall. Therefore instead of circumventing the issue, kicking the can down the road, I think financial literacy should be as well embedded in any financial inclusion model, sought of to better ensure sustainability of the solution in itself.

It’s worth noting that for the last decades most donors have been in emergency situations managing dire situations whereby lump money is needed without the pre-requisites of proper outreach and communication in time and quality, henceforth, the funding becomes cyclical, with shallow outcome and lesser impacts than project document objectives made it look attractive to start with.

At this juncture AfDB has to look at its overall involvement as key to what’s yet to come for the next decades and realize that they have the best of all inputs to date, out of which to draw the best bet practice in the matter of gender equality in agriculture finance and lead the change forward!

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Across the emerging world, while the term “community development financial institutions” or “CDFI” is relatively new, the concept in itself is part of a much richer history of community economic development, resilience, gender friendly and self-help credit mechanisms. With extensive research on adaptability and adjustments, AfDB can truly draw from such inclusive and community driven models and, in line with prevailing illiteracy rates in Africa, through better ITC integration, lead the change ahead into the broader development agenda.

Below figure showcasing Old vs New personal finance management, with a focus on compound aggregates of individual worth towards greater collective pursuits, with scale economy potential in acquisitions, mobilizations and market facilities...Under a collective management scheme with help of a local business advisory service mechanism for oversight and vault functions.

Brought in by earlier immigrant guilds of New York City’s Lower East Side and the Prairie Populists of the late 1800s, overlapping to African-American communities forming the first community development credit unions in the 1930s in response to exclusive financial systems at times of racial and ethnic bias, communities in America have sought out self-help credit solutions because traditional financial institutions have ignored or abandoned them...Regardless of the context (USA vs Africa), background in that regards seems pretty much likely in African contexts of financial disintegration. My latest experience in community resilience through insurance and financial services in the US exposed me to various knowledge gap, and perception bias that status quo hasn’t done much to improve, if not besides emphatic rhetoric embedded in current economic inclusion self-imposed paradigms.

With the above picture in mind, current community development financial institutions (CDFI) industry in the US, began taking shape in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some of the first organizations dedicated to community development were created out of governmental efforts to address poverty alleviation and racial discrimination. Under its “War on Poverty” campaign and through the Office of Economic Opportunity the Johnson Administration, launched community development corporations (CDCs) to work in both urban and rural poor communities. In the successes of many of these early CDCs lay the foundation for today’s CDFI industry as well in the US as aborad, replicating the very premise of practical financial inclusion model, community-based and data driven.

At this very inception, AfDB might save time and resources in further documenting its approach to the full spectrum of gender and financial inclusion, overhauling its rationale with a similar scenario. CDFIs specifically focus on serving the needs of the poor and working class within urban and poor rural communities, as many of these citizens are underserved or unfit by traditional commercial banks and lending standards, their respective values become a scale economy worth considering. The goal here is to help those feeding their communities and taking care of business, become financially self-sufficient, allowing them to increase their contributions to national economic growth and to rebuild run-down communities.

Tasks such CFDIs can look into are various, each with the goal of fostering economic growth within local communities through innovative and way less stringent lending practices, educational efforts tailored to local markets demands…

With help of local business advisory services as the consultative hub in data collection, metrics in poverty mapping and background financial analysis, CDFIs would gain in notoriety being controlled locally, without interference from the central government, national or local hierarchy.

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With existing inclusive community financial institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa, AfDB could tweak basic operating procedures to make it more gender relevant and help build towards a marked community development financial institution...Below Youtube Link featuring some women (westernmost) background model following the history of a few variants...

https://youtu.be/puO9u1lu_jU

Under this inclusive model, mission-related investment strategies are proven foundations and anchor, AfDB and partners might use to generate financial returns while promoting mission-related goals.

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Good point Lizzy, and that’s an area of critical relevance… As I highlighted in my above post’ last paragraph, since monitoring plays a major role in what’s yet to come up from the AfDB, typical ways in which portfolio investees could be assisted, coached along include:

1-Advice in business and financial planning based on markets

2-Design, approval and implementation of financial safeguards at community level

3-Design. approval and implementation of marketing strategies

4-Layout of terms and conditions of sales and purchasing agreements with key outlets

5-Raising and maintaining operational criteria and quality control mechanism to regional standards

To name a few as of now, and given the developmental objectives of the AfDB, most accountability standards hitherto applied in conventional business models need to be revamped to fit the actual “target” when it comes to agricultural transformation mainly through gender sensitive approaches.

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Anticipatively some inputs in previous discussion threads addressed most of this financing aspect of the equation ahead… As most can’t help pointing out the issue without proposing alternatives, solutions to the road forward; having this financing topic by itself will surely help in devising specific action items worth considering by the Bank. As central it is that it can be noticed, at the end of the day, despite all the potential here and there, bringing forth a Gender in the Transformation of Africa’s Agriculture work requires non-conventional financing, at least in the underwriting process.             

Specific to the areas covered herein, to my opinion, for substantial answers to the questions below, as outlined, and in a telegraphic sort of response:

Question: What are the main challenges to gender equality in agriculture finance?

Response: Among other structural and systemic disconnects, inadequate accounting systems, in sync with conventional solvency models to commercial financing, mostly prevalent in our immediate contexts in Africa. In addition to that, conflicting donor priorities to name the least, causing various beneficiaries development agenda in the end, for same region or vicinity considered.

Question: What has been done – by the AfDB, DFIs and stakeholders - to address the gender gap in agriculture finance?

Response: Pending accurate inventory of full spectrum of financial mechanisms lately involved, it’s safe to say that the gender gap in Africa hasn’t been subject to a specific response from the donor community so to speak, in terms of specific financing only targeted to the gap by itself. However as an add-on to existing funding schemes, gender inclusion has been conditional to most donor schemes since the 2000s, right after the fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing: Action for Equality, Development and Peace was the name given for such a conference convened by the United Nations poised to shifting the whole paradigm on women in development.

Question: Which financing mechanisms could be successfully used to tackle gender equality in agriculture finance?

Response: Based on existing data on Women role in agriculture at large, the reverse mechanism principle can be applied hereby: it’s not about proving if women in agriculture are solvent “clients” the proof is in the pudding and already tested (refer above examples of success stories in previous discussion threads, ie WAAPP-PPAAO project concept model), we’re at a phase where it’s more about providing the financing needed, with basic appropriate safeguards, in order to enhance, improve and upscale existing innovation platforms in the agricultural value chain spearheaded by women in Africa, due to their central function, role and reach within family, community and society at large!

Question: How can the Bank address these challenges, as it works to bolster food security on the continent?

Response: Among other structural and systemic disconnects leading to status quo of discriminatory financing between men and women, learning from precedence, Bank should be able to apply basic, minimum accountability standards to such target as women in Agricultural value chain, building form proven market and demand driven success across the continent. Food security is such a priority in Africa that financing cannot compare to financing of any other area of our daily lives. And knowing how women’ role is critical is all post-harvest portion of the value chain, should bring the bank to consider the non-conventional aspect of the expected model of financing towards its newest “target”. Many demographics are at play, that make such a move a must: illiteracy, disadvantaged social position, lack of basic environment to prepare to minimum accountability standards, making an overhaul coaching an all-time must through Outreach and Communication for Development.

Question: What experiences and lessons could be used to buttress the effectiveness of the Bank’s interventions in this area?

Response: As strongly highlighted in previous discussion threads, inventory of such success stories provide the best answer of all dos and don’ts the Bank can and should capitalize on with help of the few expertise available across the continent, putting strong emphasis on data mining, collection, and processing for best bet metrics programming in effective use of such data in the overall Gender in the Transformation of Africa’s Agriculture.

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