Empowering West African Women Small & Medium Enterprises in Rice Value Chains.

The EWASME (Empowering West African Women Small & Medium Enterprises) programme is a significant initiative aimed at supporting women-owned and led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and very small enterprises (VSEs) within the rice value chain in West Africa. 

The programme operates in Guinea, Niger, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, focusing on narrowing the gender gap and fostering an environment conducive to the growth and expansion of women's businesses at all levels of the rice value chain.

Overall Objective

To reduce poverty, increase food security, and empower women in rural areas while improving the competitiveness of local rice value chains.

Rationale of the intervention

Rice is the most demanded staple food and highest traded food product in West Africa making it not only vital for food security and nutrition but fundamental for economic development, and poverty reduction. The industry is underperforming in part because women, who are a crucial resource face constraints that limit their level and quality of participation.

 Women in SSA produce 60% to 80% of total output, contribute 60% to 80% of total labor inputs, account for 70% of the distribution and almost 90% of sales. Despite the vital role they play in agriculture and rural enterprises gender specific obstacles such as lack of access to training and information, access to markets and supply chain linkages and structural barriers that block women’s access to land ownership and finance put women at a significant disadvantage and relegate them to peripheral positions with low economic returns.

Expected results and examples of activities. 

The EWASME Project aims to enhance the postproduction capacity of at least 200 Women owned or led Small and Medium Enterprises (500 SMEs) and Very Small Enterprises (500 VSEs) in selected areas of Sierra Leone in the Bonthe and Kambia Districts.

TIME FRAME : 5 years: 2022 – 2027

USD 9.8 Million raised.


Raised: USD 9.8 Million raised by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) of the World Bank.

USD 5 Million

Additional Funding Needed

USD 5 Million - To expand the programme to additional businesses in the same countries or to other countries.

200 Women owned or led Small and Medium Enterprises

Targeted beneficiaries

200 Women owned or led Small and Medium Enterprises and Very Small Enterprises in selected communities in Bonthe and Kambia District of Sierra Leone.