Success for Women in Agri-Food Project Update
By Heather Broughton
This past year, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of women across rural Alberta through my work with Agriculture and Food Council Alberta’s (AFC) Success for Women in Agri-Food project. I have learned about the many significant and innovative contributions made by their businesses in the agriculture and agri-food industry business, from primary agriculture and community supported agriculture, to production of processed food products, and other value added products. They openly talked about their successes, as well as the challenges or barriers they faced in their businesses. For some, it was the barriers that stopped them from getting started. The objective of the Success for Women in Agri-Food project is to develop and implement a pilot program to address barriers to increase the capacity and success of those women within the regional food system.
Through the many discussions this last year, I came to recognize that each woman’s definition of success was individual to her. However, several common themes emerged: financial viability and profitability, feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction, achieving a work/life balance, the ability to have equal input into decisions, making decisions and choices with confidence, and being accepted and respected as equal contributors to the agri-food industry.
As determined from the data collected, to overcome the barriers identified it was important to focus on developing a program that increased access and opportunity to skill development, increased knowledge base, knowledge transfer, expanded relationships, increased confidence and capacity within a supportive and open environment and complementing those characteristics unique to women.
AFC is presenting the Success for Women in Agri-Food Debut Event to showcase and kick start the 2017 Pilot Program. On November 19th, 2016, in five locations across rural Alberta, a combination of delivery formats will be used to provide presentations to start addressing those barriers identified through the surveys and conversations. This is to showcase and sample the learning of practical business concepts, meet other women entrepreneurs in agriculture and agri-food and learn about what’s to come in 2017!
The Success For Women in Agri- Food program will be launched in late January 2017. This unique opportunity for women entrepreneurs in rural Alberta will focus on building skills needed to make confident business decisions, forming networks and sharing information, learning about other successful women entrepreneurs, desired mentorship, and understanding the importance of getting involved in policy conversations and decision making.
Both projects provide women the tools and opportunities to continue grow in their capacity in both roles of leadership and management in agriculture and agri-food, contributing to a stronger and more vibrant industry.