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PHOTO ESSAY: Empowering women smallholder farmers through digital microinsurance


At least 43 percent of smallholder farmers in Africa are estimated to be women. However, they typically have limited choice and knowledge of insurance services that can protect them against agricultural and climate-related risks. Since 2021, Pula and ADFI have been working together on closing the agricultural insurance gender gap. Through funding and technical assistance from ADFI, a human-centred design (HCD) research exercise was carried out in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia between October and November 2021.

The exercise aimed to uncover how agricultural insurance should be bundled to meet women smallholder farmers’ needs, and the types of socio-cultural barriers that insurance products would need to overcome. The research found that around 60 percent of women were aware of agricultural insurance. Despite this knowledge, insurance uptake among women smallholder farmers remains limited. Some reasons for this include limited decision-making power, limited capital availability, low mobility, and societal and cultural barriers that prevent access to services.

The findings from each country concluded that digital technology can play a significant role in raising awareness and improving the uptake and understanding of agricultural insurance products. In addition, women smallholder farmers can be targeted through female agents, while the media and local role models can be used to promote gender equality. As of 2022, the results of the project are being used by Pula to improve its product offering in each market surveyed, and to raise awareness and take-up of agricultural insurance.

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