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PGTF Africa regional networking project

As for most Sub-Saharan African countries, poverty is a serious problem in the five countries this project is targeting (Malawi, Kenya, Eritrea, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). The proportion of people living in extreme poverty (population living below $2 a day) ranges from 58.3% in Kenya to 89.9% in Tanzania (UNDP, Human Development Report, 2006). Female-headed households represent a typical group of the vulnerable segments of the poor that have food security and employment related problems.

Poverty reduction is a great challenge which is proposed to be addressed by the Governments and the private sector of these countries by raising the incomes of the poor segments of the population, i.e. by enhancing human resource endowments and establishing an enabling environment for income-generation through entrepreneurial opportunities with increased access to productive resources, in particular for women and rural entrepreneurs. Traditionally, women carry out the handling of agricultural products at both the household and enterprise levels, however there is very little value addition being undertaken to develop the agri-food sector.

During the last five years, entrepreneurship development programmes targeting women and youth in agri-businesses in Malawi, Kenya, Eritrea, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe have been technically supported by UNIDO with internal and external donor funding. These national programmes have basically reached their objectives and focused on setting up a base for entrepreneurship development in rural areas, where agriculture constitutes one of the major sources of livelihoods for the population. The approach applied in these programmes included Training of Trainers (ToTs), institutional capacity building and setting up market linkages. Training in technical areas and in business skills, as well as equipment for demonstration and production have been provided to women, including youth.