The GSMA mWomen and mAgri programmes have produced the Mobile Agricultural Services Toolkit as a guide for mobile operators, other mobile providers, and development practitioners to better serve women in this segment. It includes recommendations and tools for each stage of the product development process, as well as examples of good practices.
The products and services in question include value-added services (information, advisory, matchmaking, or other), mobile financial services, and basic services (voice, SMS, and data) delivered via mobile phone. While the focus is broadly on Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the framework may also be applied to other developing regions.
This document is a tool for mAgri service providers and development practitioners to reach and serve women working in agriculture more effectively. The toolkit provides recommendations, insights, and examples of good practices and tools for each stage of the product development process, and covers a full range of mobile services, including value-added (information, advisory, or other), financial, and basic services (voice, SMS, and data).
The commercial opportunity
In emerging markets, women working in agriculture are an untapped market for mobile operators.
- As urban areas reach saturation in mobile penetration, rural markets represent high-growth opportunities for mobile operators seeking to reach new users. For example, Vodacom noted at the end of 2012 that future growth in Tanzania will come from rural areas that currently have low connection penetration rates (25% compared to 80% in urban areas).3
- Women comprise up to 50% of agricultural workers, an estimated 556 million potential users globally.4
The social opportunity
- Agriculture is a major source of livelihood for most resource-poor populations in developing regions. Women play a core role in agriculture, but underperform in terms of productivity largely because they lack access to resources such as finance, skills training, and information services.
- Mobile technology could bridge this gap, helping to:
- Increase productivity and incomes of rural women and their households
- Empower rural women in their households and communities and
- Improve livelihoods overall for underserved communities
What is unique about mAgri services to women?
Women in agriculture require a tailored approach because they:
- Play different roles in agricultural production and the household (women generally have more ‘informal’ roles that are often smaller scale, localised, or ‘invisible’)
- Have different price sensitivities and purchasing priorities than men, reinvesting an estimated 90% of their income in their families, while men reinvest just 30–40%7
- Access information through different, often informal channels
- Are less likely to have access to technology due to cultural barriers, lower literacy levels, and less disposable income.