Financing Issues Facing Women Small Scale Food Processors: Report on a Survey of SSFPA Women Members (2019)

Executive Summary

The Small Scale Food Processor Association’s (SSFPA) gender analysis in 2018 showed that 66% of their members were women. Women members have consistently reported issues finding financing for their business. These facts led the SSFPA to apply to the Status of Women, Economic Development program for assistance over a 3-year period in delving into this issue with the goal of developing and implementing solutions. Several projects are being undertaken to move ‘the Project’ forward.

This is a report of one of the activities: an online survey of members aimed at gaining a more nuanced understanding of how problems accessing financing manifest themselves. It was assumed that being approved for financing was not a simplistic problem…there would be a complex context around the issue. This assumption proved correct as can be seen from the narratives provided by members in the Appendices of this report.

Cover of Financing reportThe results of the survey further substantiate the depth of the problems involved in the process when small scale food processors (SSFPs) approach a financing agency for funding for their start-up or growth plan. The most stunning result of this survey is that the majority of the women responding to this survey did not receive outside funding for their business! The problems women have in attempts to find financing probably relate to the poor recognition of the importance of the small processor in the food industry by financing agencies. The role of SSFPs who are limited to producing for the domestic food system is also not well understood not only by the financing industry but also by government programs. The Food Processing Industry in general, suffers from lack of investment and those SSFPs with innovative ideas or passion about contributing to the local food movement and who intend to start ‘small’ are not understood to be important in the overall food system. We are defining this category of problems as BARRIERS that must be overcome in the food system and in the financial system.

Of equal importance, participants shared many instances of their own problems in attempting to find financing. We are defining this category of problems as CHALLENGES that the women are expected to overcome for themselves.

The inspiration gained from the materials gathered through this survey will be a component of the strategy that the Small-Scale Food Processor Association will take up with supporters and partners who are working to address the barriers and challenges revealed through this and other activities in the Project. The goal is to clarity the issues, state them as problems, and then mobilize support to solve the problems in the interests of increasing domestic production. The second goal is to make sure women food entrepreneurs can successfully bring their wonderful ideas to market.

For the full report click here.