WE INVEST IN AGRI-BUSINESS PROJECTS WHERE WOMEN ARE VISIBLE, LEAD AND WIN !
The three founders joined forces to accelerate gender smart investment in women in agri-value chains. Driven by their passion for ‘problem solving’ and with their complimentary professional backgrounds and experience with the public and private sector in Europe and ACP states.
Their catalyst to action, a shared frustration by the disconnect between promising political speeches and the lack of ‘real action’ to connect women agri- entrepreneurs with agricultural finance, technical support and agri-tech resources.
The founders would break the silos through a holistic investment approach. They built LadyAgri on three pillars to tackle the specific needs of women in agri-business with tailor made solutions to overcome systemic constraints, improve quality and market access. The founders’ ambition is to bring women out of the shadows where they are ‘visible’ and ‘valued’ at every step of the agri-value chain.
Hilary Barry is originally from Ireland. She is founder and Secretary General of the LadyAgri Impact Investment Hub. Her mindset in setting up ‘LadyAgri’ was that investing in women is simply smart economics! She is an avid supporter of the Africa-EU partnership, convinced that the future of the two continents is intrinsically linked through strong trade relations and inclusive agri-value chains. Since her first experience in Ghana in 1993 she has dedicated her entire career to social impact programmes across sub-saharan Africa (public health, agriculture, water, social development, SME support and women entrepreneurship). “By dedicating our support to women, we can be guaranteed that we are also investing in improving family livelihoods, improving opportunities for the next generation, positively impacting communities, creating decent jobs and prospects”. Along with her co- founders, Hilary is a convinced venture philanthropist and believes patient investment in women in agri-supply chains, though challenging, will have a ‘rising tide’ effect and wide social impact.
Hilary is an experienced manager and leads the LadyAgri team of expertise dedicated to providing technical assistance, access to financing and setting up B2B agribusiness, food technology partnerships for women agri- entrepreneurs. Hilary Barry has managed numerous development programmes with the European institutions, the World Bank, FMO and led multidisciplinary teams in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Hilary is at ease working with both the private, public and financial sectors where she has actively supported companies and professional associations in development of trade relations and secured investments to strengthen business and exports. She holds a Master’s in Science (MSc) Food Marketing, Rural Development and Cooperative Organisation and BA European Political Science from the National University of Ireland.
Aida Axelsson-Bakri, of Ethiopian and Swiss origin, is a co-Founder and Chair of the LadyAgri Strategy Advisory Council. A social-entrepreneur at heart, Aida believes that LadyAgri is the vehicle by which women agri- entrepreneurs will finally be able to reach their potential and bring quality, security, and jobs to Africa’s food systems.
Aida is Founder and Managing Director of a leading Brussels-based consultancy, ADS Insight, she has a strong sense of leadership and management in the field of International and European affairs. Her expertise is in public affairs, corporate social responsibility, international relations and European Union policy and funding instruments. In the area of food safety, agri-supply chains and nutrition, she supports i.a. the African Union Commission notably in their efforts to address the contamination of food by aflatoxin through the Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA). She is passionate about the complex debate around social investment – particularly in the area of agri-business and women, and the methodologies that serve to measure impact. In May 2019, Aïda Axelson Bakri shared the LadyAgri story on TED X Talk and in November 2019 she was identified as one of the 11 most successful international women entrepreneurs by Vital Voices sponsored by Bank of America, .Through her company, ADS Insight, she provided LadyAgri with its initial “incubator” start up space and continues to whole-heartedly support its cause. Aida has lived in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Switzerland, and currently resides in Belgium. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Environmental Science and speaks five languages.
Ayélé Gabiam is of Togolese origin and co-founder of Lady Agri Impact Investment Hub. She is the Director of partnerships for LadyAgri. Being part of the African diaspora, Ayélé is aware of the challenges faced by the African continent and believes these can only be overcome by the economic development and job-creation within SMEs especially in the agricultural sector. For Ayélé, it is important to especially invest in the potential of women agri- entrepreneurs as they are the links that hold our agri-value chains together. We must offer them the agri- business know-how, technology and access to finance to grow. She emphasises, “We African women need to regain confidence in ourselves and our ability to run our own businesses and contribute positively to our communities. Women are the fabric that hold our nations together”.
Ayélé is a strong advocate of valuing local expertise and know-how when providing technical assistance. Finding local solutions to global problems is the first step towards sustainable economic development.
Specialised in ACP-EU relations as a public relations expert, especially for Interprofessional Associations and Export Agencies along with the CAVIE (African Center for Business Intelligence and Intelligence), she has organised several trade missions and high level business meetings and conferences in West and Central African countries, particularly in the agricultural sector. Her experience on the ground allows her to have excellent understanding of diplomatic and commercial partnership relations with decision-makers from African and European countries. Since 2015, she runs her own company, which accompanies African trade missions to new markets throughout Europe and the Caribbean. Ayélé holds a Degree in Communications and Public Relations from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and speaks French, English and Ewe-Mina.