With agriculture accounting for about 20% of GDP in the Republic of Benin, and employing over 50% of the workforce (aged 15-64) according to statistics, various initiatives have been implemented to promote youth in agribusiness in the country. However, there seems to be an inability to develop some of these businesses for sustainable income among the youth, especially women who venture into the agricultural sector.
In sub-Saharan Africa, studies show that most women engaged in agribusiness mainly work in processing, a sector that employs nearly 88% of women in Benin, and the majority of them are under 35 years old. Although according to a study carried out by Smith Dossou, an IITA–CARE awardee, women entrepreneurs are more likely to underperform or make less revenues and profits in their businesses compared to men entrepreneurs.
The study explores understanding the economic success, role of entrepreneurial orientation, and the influence of social and business environments among young women agribusiness owners in Benin; carried out under the IFAD sponsored CARE project, it reveals that embracing strategies that will enhance innovative, pro-active and risk-taking attitudes can ensure the future success of young women agribusiness owners in the country.
Agribusiness like most economic activities has been identified as critical to development in African countries. With the development of agro-based industries and initiatives focusing on youths that would create the much-needed jobs to address unemployment and poverty.
“In Benin, various initiatives have been implemented to promote youth entrepreneurship in agribusiness”, states Dossou. ‘Yet, young people, especially women who venture into agribusiness often find themselves in the short or medium term unable to develop their businesses for sustainable income’, he added.
According to Dossou, there seems to be a relatively low business performance index with young women agribusiness owners, although the study records a positive effect of Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO), on the innovativeness, pro-activeness and risk-taking characteristics among them.
In order to develop enterprise production and help women agribusiness owners increase profit in Benin, policymakers can develop subsector-specific policies that will address the underperformance of young women agribusiness owners. Also initiatives around capacity building in partnership with Non-Governmental Organizations and professional training institutions can be implemented to help potential young women agribusiness owners to acquire and grow the appropriate EO.