At the Africa Food Systems Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman and Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security Dina Esposito announced new investments to support inclusive and resilient food systems in Africa, including $15 million to provide targeted support to women, smallholder farmers, and small- and medium-sized businesses in food systems across the continent. These investments are part of the supplemental funds deployed by the U.S. government through Feed the Future, a whole-of-government initiative to address food insecurity and fertilizer price spikes in Africa.
Supporting women in agribusiness
During the opening session of the Forum’s Deal Room – a match-making venue to drive new agribusiness deals and commitments – Deputy Administrator Coleman announced a $4 million investment in VALUE4HER, Africa’s first agribusiness digital marketplace specifically for women. Seventy percent of women-owned small- and medium-sized businesses in developing countries cannot access financial services that meet their needs – a finance gap that drives gender inequality. VALUE4HER, implemented by AGRA, will help women-led agribusiness overcome these barriers by enabling them to build business networks, raise capital, and connect with buyers, financiers, and other service providers.
Strengthening resilience to shocks
During a Forum roundtable on the vision for Africa’s fertilizer and soil health, Assistant to the Administrator for Resilience and Food Security Esposito announced a $5 million investment in Sustain Africa, an initiative that coordinates public and private sector partners to help smallholder farmers access affordable fertilizer, strengthen resilience to future fertilizer shocks, and ensure a stable and nutritious food supply. With USAID’s support, the program will expand and improve its ability to track fertilizer price trends and signal when help is needed. This investment enables USAID and its private sector partners to help six million farmers in sub-Saharan Africa successfully grow crops, even in the face of shocks.
Investing in nutrition
During an event at the close of the Forum’s first day, Deputy Administrator Coleman announced a $6 million investment, in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Incofin Investment Management, in the Nutritious Foods Financing Facility (N3F). The first of its kind, N3F is an investment fund focused explicitly on improving diet quality and nutrition in sub-Saharan Africa through financing to small- and medium-enterprises involved in the provision of affordable, safe, and nutritious local food. The fund also prioritizes investments that advance gender equality and provide at least 30 percent of all loans to woman-owned or led small- and medium-sized businesses.