Since the 1980s, aquaculture production in Egypt has grown rapidly, adding substantially to the supply of affordable fish to domestic markets. As a result, aquaculture markets have become a strategic food sector that contributes to nutrition security and sustains substantial employment opportunities for informal retailers, many of whom are women. However, the informal nature of fish retailing can result in different forms of insecurity relating to insufficient lending arrangements, risk of postharvest losses and poor returns, and threat of harassment or arrest.
Research suggests restrictive gender norms and attitudes particularly impact women’s retailing businesses, resulting in smaller enterprises, more limited diversity of species and lower value products being sold compared to men retailers.
The Empowering Women Fish Retailers (EWFIRE) project will be implemented in Sharkia, Lower Egypt. Through its interventions, the project will test different value chain development strategies for improving women’s economic empowerment (defined as employment generation and improved profitability).
EWFIRE will deliver on its main targets of economic empowerment of women fish retailers through seven outcomes. These relate to the improved capacity of women beneficiaries regarding their social capital (group membership, legitimacy, bargaining power, market linkages); physical resources (processing centers, equipment); financial resources (village savings and loan associations, formal credit markets); human resources (technical training, business development skills, market information and online resources); and the establishment of new product lines and sustainable business models.
The project will deliver on these targets through five activity work plans. These relate to supporting development of women-led retailer collectives; establishing/equipping five fish processing centers; delivering training on conflict resolution, entrepreneurship and marketing; developing sustainable business models; and strengthening market relations of women retailers.
The project aims to generate full-time employment for 300 women through the establishment of 50 new women-led enterprises and improve the profitability of 100 existing women retailers.