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Exildah, 24, is one of many women who, with the support of the Agriculture Support Programme, has found her way out of poverty and improved her life considerably.

Photo: Curt Carnemark/World Bank

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Small farmer becomes entrepreneur

Published: 18 June 2009 Updated: 15 August 2014

Exildah Mwambazi from a family of poor small farmers in the Mbala district of Zambia is now an entrepreneur with self-confidence and hope for the future. She was supported by a Sida-financed programme for agricultural development, which focuses on gender equality.

Building her own house, raising chickens and growing more onions and tomatoes are all part of Exildah’s plans. Soon, she will also complete her education. As the eldest daughter, she was forced to give up her studies and take care of her younger siblings.

Exildah, 24, is one of many women who, with the support of the Agriculture Support Programme (ASP), has found her way out of poverty and improved her life considerably. The programme, which ran between 2003 and  2008, has helped poor Zambian small farmers, both men and women, to become self-assured entrepreneurs with control over their own lives. 

The participants have learned how to draw up business plans and prepare market analyses. This includes finding out which crops are in demand, the market price in the region and the most effective cultivation methods. In total, 4,400 households have participated in ASP activities.

Increased self-confidence among women

A report published in conjunction with the end of the programme in 2008, showed that the ASP programme had very positive effects on gender equality. Women have better control of household incomes than before, men and women share the workload and women’s self-confidence has risen.   

The programme was aimed at households, to both men and women, and this is regarded as a success in gender equality terms. The co-operation to turn families’ farming activities into effective small businesses strengthened and developed women and improved their relations with men. One lesson learned in recent years is that gender equality measures should also involve men if they are to be sustainable in the long term. 


Page owner: Department for Africa

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