Women-Led Biofortified Food Businesses: Advancing Nutrition and Health

HarvestPlus supports women entrepreneurs who are establishing and leading businesses that produce and sell products made with micronutrient-rich staple crops. Featured here are four strong businesswomen who are creating demand for biofortified crops grown by smallholder farmers, strengthening biofortified food value chains, and advancing the consumption of nourishing food in their communities. In doing so, they help address hidden hunger.

Shais Foods in Zambia

Miriam Chipulu is founder, owner, and CEO of this agro-processing enterprise that makes food products with locally grown vitamin A maize.

“The main objective is to improve food security at the household level and create a sustainable source of income for smallholder farmers, especially women and youth. I am proud to say that 92 percent of Shais Foods workers are women."

VRDS Zinc Rice Seed and Grain in Bangladesh

Fakrun Nahar established her business of biofortified zinc rice to help raise the nutritional status of undernourished vulnerable people in her community.

“I hope VRDS branded zinc rice seed and grain business will be sustainable and successful and I want to give earnest thanks to HarvestPlus for inspiring and helping me to start the business for the good of my community.”

Sunshine Group in Zimbabwe

Lilian Murangariri is a village food entrepreneur who packages and sells biofortified maize meal and samp, and uses many biofortified foods such as vitamin A maize and iron beans in her catering business. She has provided her fellow community members with a source of employment.

“As a mother, wife, farmer, and now a businesswoman, it has been very difficult juggling all these roles. It is only with my husband’s and my group’s tireless support that I have soldiered on. Now we have plans for expanding the Sunshine Group, but we will always produce biofortified foods as that has the potential to save thousands of families from hidden hunger.”

Rahama Cassava Snacks in Nigeria

Hassana Hassan has created a successful business with a social mission to improve the health and livelihoods of the women who work for the Rahama Cassava Snacks business.

“A lot of young people and women are now employed in the cassava value chain. They also feed their families with products from vitamin A cassava especially the snack (Combobites), which is very affordable, nutritious, and good for children. Since I started my vitamin A cassava business many people in my community are now aware of the benefits of consuming biofortified cassava and its key role in improving the health of our people.”

Securing gender-equity across food value chains

Women-owned enterprises are a key link for food and nutrition value chains. “As ‘nutri-preneurs’ women overcome a range of traditional and interlocking constraints in access to capital, assets and market networks,” said Rewa Misra, Policy Advisor and Gender Focal Point at HarvestPlus.

As the stories illustrate, many of these women entrepreneurs support local economies through trade, create jobs, and deliver improved nutritional outcomes for communities. If we are to nourish our communities, it is critical to support the businesses initiated and led by women. We need to empower them, support them and cheer them on as their businesses go from strength to strength to improve nutrition for their people.