Case study

Do inclusive business models close the gender gap?

Reflections on GROW Liberia’s commercial approach to foster more inclusive agricultural markets

Published by
GROW Liberia

GROW Liberia works to realign incentives and relationships to improve economic participation and increase income and employment for poor women and men at scale.  It engages with public and private partners who are motivated and capable of addressing the underlying causes of underperformance that limit farmers’ participation and opportunity in its target cocoa and vegetables sectors.

This paper reflects on the programmes inclusive business models to close the gender gap in agriculture. It examines how a compelling business case motivates change in partner strategy.

GROW worked to increase access to affordable agro-inputs and advisory services for male and female farmers - while almost 60 per cent of Liberia’s vegetable farmers are female, on average, women made upless than a third of the client base of Liberian agro-input dealers. By addressing this agro-dealers increased annual sales by 77 per cent.

However existing bias against women in business roles proved stronger than the evidence on their effectiveness as agents, with the unequal power relations between men and women being key. The report describes the issues around social norms and how they were addressed - and emphasises the need to test, investigate, refine – and repeat.

It concludes that a change of power is needed to enable women to take on more lucrative roles in agriculture on an equal footing with men. Therefore, closing gender gaps in agriculture requires economic development programmes to acknowledge, understand and set out to tackle the “noneconomic” barriers to economic participation and empowerment.