The Missing Middle
Of all the registered businesses in Africa, 90% are qualified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Despite comprising a significant portion of business entities, entrepreneurs lack access to financial resources and support services needed to successfully grow and expand their SMEs. Despite large investments in African development, very little of it reaches this middle demographic for establishing and growing their businesses.
This group is commonly referred to as the "missing middle" and are often further overlooked in strategic conversations by the needs of those who live with extreme poverty and hunger.
Bridging the gap for farmers.
The rural entrepreneurs of the missing middle are the key to unlocking economic progress for communities. When more is done to boost lateral agricultural businesses, entrepreneurs can develop an eco-system of farmer support systems and resources building stronger, more resilient food markets.
By investing in the development of SMEs, Bountifield provides resources needed to cultivate postharvest technology businesses. These businesses provide direct and affordable support, closing the technology access gap for farmers. More employment opportunities are created both on and off-farm in addition to increased postharvest productivity, getting nutritious food from farm to consumer.
The Gender Gap in Agriculture
Gender-based inequalities greatly limit women’s capabilities and, as a result, they are disproportionately affected by poverty and hunger. Across Africa, women account for an average of 60% of the agricultural workforce, yet women have less access to beneficial resources that are more often available to men including business education, technical support, and financial capital.
Many of these women rely on traditional, manual labor methods that consume a significant amount of their time and energy, are extremely inefficient, and physically strenuous. Time constraints and drudgery restrict women from fulfilling their full business potential, keeping them trapped in a poverty cycle from which it is extremely difficult to break free.
When women thrive, communities thrive.
If women around the world had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could increase farm yields by 20-30 percent, feeding an additional 150 million people a year. By closing the gender gap alone, we could make critical strides in the fight against global hunger.
Our time-saving tools help women to more efficiently process their crops while greatly reducing the physical burdens of manual labor. Additionally, when women reduce the time it takes to process their crops and food products, they can focus on other income-generating activities. This ultimately provides their entire family with increased economic opportunity and potential, positively impacting future generations.
A Generation At Risk
Africa is among the youngest continents in the world with 60% of the population under the age of 25, compared to just 33% of people living in the United States in the same age demographic. According to projections, Africa is the only region in which this segment of the population is growing, and that trend is expected to continue in the coming decades.
To date, job growth has not kept pace to maximize the potential of this coming boost in the African labor force. Because of limited job options, much of the rural youth population is migrating to more urban areas in search of economic opportunities, leaving family farms and rural communities vulnerable to an unstable future.
Youth are the future of Africa.
Provided with the proper training and expanded job prospects, African youth present a significant opportunity to increase productivity of agriculture. Youth are able to bring energy and creativity to the industry, providing a unique opportunity for innovation and revitalization.
With the demands spurred by a growing population and the increasingly adverse effects of climate change, African agricultural will need the inspiration of the upcoming generation in order to adapt to the needs of the future.