GAIN Working Paper Series 12 - Integrating gender equity into business networks for nutrition

Starting a business is challenging - particularly in the agriculture and food sector in a low- or middle-income country, and particularly for women, who face numerous barriers to starting and running a firm. Business networks can play an important role in helping women (and men) navigate these challenges by providing them with access to information, contacts, and resources.

However, they can also themselves be affected by existing gender norms and biases, potentially even reinforcing them. To understand how to make the work of business networks (and particularly those that aim to improve nutrition) more gender sensitive, this paper summarises the literature on women in business networks and related gender equity issues. The review uncovers numerous advantages to networks, some potential pitfalls, and certain differences between men and women in terms of network access and use.

The paper then uses the insights emerging from that review to offer recommendations for how to adapt business network-based programming to better promote gender equity.