Logistics, an important component of value chains, includes supply chain management, transportation, traceability, digital platforms for e-commerce, and (cold) storage. Nascent logistics services are often targeted at large-scale enterprises with greater market power. Even in cases where smallholders and SMEs are considered, the traditional male role in the marketing of commercial crops constrains the ability of these services to effectively target women. However, modern logistics services can take advantage of new technology to more effectively serve women if products are designed in a gender sensitive way. This area of work assesses the ways in which cross-value chain services can be cost-effectively targeted at smallholder farmers and agrifood SMEs.
New methods of extending value chain finance, particularly through digital financial services (DFS), can help reduce transaction costs for poor farmers and agrifood SMEs, allowing them to invest in producing higher-value, income-generating food products. DFS include transactions, savings, credit, and potentially insurance products, and can be bundled with the logistics tools discussed above. As with logistics services, women face higher barriers to access credit in value chains. DFS provides the opportunity to design more gender-sensitive products, with digital technologies alleviating some of the logistical hurdles that may impede women’s participation. Whereas DFS have promise, they need reliable internet connections, suitable mobile phones, and a network of mobile money agents in order to be effective.
This area of work investigates cost-effective ways of improving access to and adoption of DFS among smallholders and agrifood SMEs, especially women and youth.
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