Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Integrating Women into Value Chains: Lessons From Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Ghana

May 16, 2013
institutional sponsor: 


Effective value chain programming requires an understanding of how people respond to different kinds of incentives in value chains and how gender affects this response. Gendered patterns of behavior influence men and women’s knowledge of, ability, and incentives to participate in value chains and to upgrade in response to changing market conditions and new market opportunities. Promoting value chain development that is inclusive of and benefits both men and women relies on understanding these behaviors and identifying gender-based constraints to upgrading.

In this seminar, Helen Loftin and Ariane Ryan will share lessons learned from MEDA’s experiences in empowering women through integration into market systems. The presenters will provide a detailed look at value chains and the sales agent model- what it is and its impact, highlighting the dimensions of power and agency. The presenters will draw from experiences in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Ghana, providing examples of how this model has been adapted in these three dynamic, socio-cultural contexts. The session will conclude with a discussion on key considerations to improve effectiveness in inclusive value chain development through women’s empowerment.


Helen Loftin
Helen Loftin

Helen LoftinHelen Loftin is the Director o

Helen LoftinHelen Loftin is the Director of Women’s Economic Development (WED) with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). She leads a portfolio of projects that include value chain, food security, SME development, and livelihoods recovery projects that target women clients and boost their participation in vibrant market systems. She promotes WED programs, highlighting the merits of private sector integration as an effective development approach for women. Loftin has developed and launched several women’s economic development projects in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Libya, and Ghana- currently reaching over 100,000 women.

Before joining MEDA, Loftin co-managed her family’s general contracting business, advocated on behalf of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada and consulted for many small businesses in Ontario in a diverse range of industries. She is a graduate of business administration studies and holds an MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

Ariane Ryan
Ariane Ryan

Ariane RyanAriane Ryan is the Project Manag

Ariane RyanAriane Ryan is the Project Manager/Consultant for the Women’s Economic Development with Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). In this position, she has managed projects which seek to promote women’s active participation in the economy in countries including Pakistan, Libya, and Haiti. She works closely with field teams to implement and monitor market-based interventions which foster the integration of women in their local economies. Ryan has also carried out consultancies and project designs in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Mali, Tajikistan and Haiti.

Prior to joining MEDA, Ryan lived and worked in West Africa, Bangladesh, and Barbados, working on agricultural and SME development projects. She holds an MBA from the University of Ottawa in Canada.