At GFI we believe that women represent the greatest potential for putting an end to the cycle of poverty that undermines development around the globe. GFI programs work with women agricultural and textile producers to remove the economic, technical and public policy barriers that prevent women from bringing their good to sustainable markets at a fair price.
Agricultural and textile production, carried out primarily by women, is the foundation of most developing country economies. In many developing economies as much as 80% of women are employed full or part time as small-scale producers in the agricultural sector and account for the majority of food security production for both their families and the communities where they live. Despite carrying such a heavy burden of the productive work, women are often marginalized to the informal sector of developing and even established economies where they find themselves ineligible for social services and social protections afforded the formal sector. The result is a deep cycle of poverty and social inequality experienced by women producers that keeps them isolated from mainstream capital markets and government social programs.
At GFI we see a deep and sustained investment in women producers as one of the single most effective strategies to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world. Empowering women farmers and textile workers requires a multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder engagement process aimed at creating opportunities for improved input, access to credit, removal of institutional and supply-chain barriers, access to high-value markets and policy reform targeted at enabling women to sustain real economic growth and improve livelihoods.
GFI's core set of program tools follows a process that targets barriers and creates opportunity through the following steps:
- Building Local Capacity
- Providing Technical Assistance
- Market Analysis
- Policy Evaluation
GFI has implemented numerous programs aimed improving the livelihoods of women around the world. GFI's Building Inclusive Shea Economies won a SEED Award in 2010, recognizing the program as one of the most "innovative small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurships around the globe which integrate social and environmental benefits into their business model."
GFI's South-South Collaboration brought together women entrepreneurs from India's SEWA cooperative and Ghana's Pagsung cooperative to share best practices and swap experiences managing women-owned and operated enterprises.