When women benefit, everyone benefits: A gender-based agenda for the African Management Institute

The Contented Agency recently enjoyed the honour of working with the African Management Institute (AMI) on a key insight paper, and on guiding the organisation’s messaging framework for the rest of 2024; their key messages, alongside the organisation’s gender-led mission, are incredibly inspiring.

For the team at AMI, gender mainstreaming is crucial for the autonomy and growth of the continent. This is constantly reflected, not only within their own programming, but in their policy making initiatives across Africa. But what exactly is it?

According to the UN, gender mainstreaming means “ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities – policy development, research, advocacy / dialogue, legislation, resource allocation, and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects.”

As such, AMI’s most recent report focuses on the enormous potential of high-quality business support in closing the gender financing gap. From easy-access programming via their apps and virtual support, to innovative initiatives such as ‘train the trainer’, they’re focused on the tangible tools required to help African female entrepreneurs flourish.

African women produce 70% of the continent’s food, dominating the agricultural labour force. So the advantages of training, connecting and upskilling this female workforce are obvious. AMI data shows that women are not utilising their learnings solely for individual benefit, either. Communicating big-picture vision and encouraging common motivation factors has proven game changing for Margaret Mutie, founder of Ndalani Farm – training her team in these areas has led to a 40% increase in productivity. Simply put, women tend to employ, trust and upskill other women at an impressive rate, which translates to tangible revenue increases across industries.

What’s more, the latest UN research shows that closing the gender finance gap could give the global economy a $7 trillion boost.

So how exactly does this forward-thinking organisation approach their mission?

  • Firstly, by delivering a statement on their unwavering commitment to equitable Business Development Standards (BDS). Namely, to BDS design that is women-first. According to AMI, “Until women’s participation in African markets equates to men’s, BDS must be female-first. This should be underpinned by the disaggregation of data by gender, to enable the provider to better measure, target and deliver programming.”
  • Crucially, by thinking big, and thinking beyond ‘business’. The building of useful networks and ecosystems leads to greater reach and deeper relationships that are imperative for sustainable financial security and growth. AMI’s teams partner with the global humanitarian organisation, Mercy Corps, to deliver technology training for entrepreneurs in Ethiopia,  and with the Private Sector Foundation in Uganda to set national BDS standards – part of which involves training for over 200 BDS providers on the ground. 

Such partnerships are extremely fruitful. Creating meaningful networks, whilst arming entrepreneurs with useful information and training, means consistently reaching the continent’s most rural communities – women who would otherwise remain potentially isolated. In other words, AMI programming is making a big difference.

Don’t take our word for it, though; the numbers speak for themselves. “In 2022, 50% of female-owned agribusinesses gained access to finance after participating in AMI programming, compared to just 40% of male-owned agribusinesses. In addition, 47% of women-owned agribusinesses on AMI programmes reported revenue growth, compared to 36% of male-owned agribusinesses.”

As AMI’s reach and roster of programmes grow, this year has already seen the organisation named as one of the Financial Times’ 2024 Fastest Growing Businesses in Africa, and they show no signs of slowing down. Embarking on a new programme  in partnership with Stanford Seed, designed to help leaders to grow their businesses, lead teams, and diversify revenue streams, we look forward to watching how future AMI initiatives help organisations fulfil their potential, and lean towards true gender equity.

Read the full insight paper right here: Green shoots for African female entrepreneurs.

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