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New report - 'Training Talent: Best practice in workplace learning & management development in Africa'

Posted By Rebecca Harrison, African Management Initiative, Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Effective managers and entrepreneurs hold the key to Africa’s prosperity. Yet organisations cite a talent gap, and traditional training models seem to be broken. Africa needs a fresh approach to help millions of managers, entrepreneurs and professionals build the skills needed to drive their organisations – and the continent - forward.  

This new report by the African Management Initiative (AMI) draws on fresh data on Africa’s critical talent gap and presents new insights on how to address it through workplace learning and development. We list eight key findings about what is needed, and about what effective workplace learning looks like in an African context, with a particular focus on SGBs. 

This report is a must-read for senior leaders in African organisations who want to address the talent gap in their own organisations. It is also invaluable for impact investors ad intermediaries who want to build talent in portfolio companies, donors interested in workforce development, banks and investors looking to strengthen small business clients, university leaders that want to equip graduates for jobs and anyone with an interest in developing Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs, managers and professionals. 

Our findings include insights on where demand for training is most urgent - what kinds of organisations most need to prioritise talent development, and what level in the organisation is most vulnerable? We look at what kind of skills are needed most – the results are sometimes surprising. 

We also look at what works, drawing on international best practice and our own experience developing talent in African organisations. We argue that to translate training into improved performance, organisations must look beyond individual skill-building to the embedding of organisational habits. We push beyond traditional training approaches such as courses and workshops to explore experiential learning, on-the-job feedback and accountability. We look at how technology can enable sophisticated personalised learning at vastly reduced cost. Finally we present our own preferred ‘blended learning’ solution and share data that illustrates how effective workplace learning programmes can deliver real results.

Download the full report here. Get in touch with Rebecca Harrison at rebecca@africanmanagers.org for more information about AMI or the report, and look our for us at the ANDE annual conference!

 

Tags:  east africa  South Africa  talent  Training & Events  West Africa 

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Join us at our 2016 Miller Center GSBI Investor Showcase

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Thursday, July 28, 2016
Updated: Thursday, July 28, 2016

 

YOU ARE INVITED TO THE 2016 GSBI INVESTOR SHOWCASE

Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship  |  Santa Clara University
Thursday, August 18, 2016 from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm (PDT)
Santa Clara, CA

You are cordially invited to attend Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s GSBI Investor Showcase at Santa Clara University on August 18, 2016. This is an invitation-only opportunity to take part in the journey of 14 social entrepreneurs tackling poverty across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Join us in supporting this cohort of mission-driven enterprises primed for scale. By August, the presenting organizations will have been working with Silicon Valley executive mentors for seven months, instilling operational excellence and investment readiness into their validated ventures.

Check out the GSBI Accelerator cohort and order now to secure your seat.

 

Cassandra Staff   
Program Director, GSBI
Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship


 

 The Investor showcase is not open to the general public, but some invitation-only seats are available. Interested investors, social enterprises, donors or like-minded organizations may request an invitation.


 Agenda:

9:30 AM                 Registration & Refreshments

10:00 AM               Welcoming Remarks, Entrepreneur Pitches (1st half)

11:20 AM               Intermission/Break

11:40 AM               Entrepreneur Pitches (2nd half)

12:30 - 2:00 PM     Lunch and Networking Reception

2:00 - 4:00 PM       1:1 Investor Meetings & Press Meetings

  


  

Snapshot of the 2016 GSBI Accelerator Cohort 

Geographic Focus

Our 14 social enterprises are making an impact in 28 countries.

infographic


 Structure of Enterprise                             Profitability Stage

         


 Capital Requirements

In order to scale and maximize their impact, these social enterprises are interested in multiple forms of capital.

 


 Sector

Many of our social enterprises are leading efforts in more than one sector.

 


 

 


Tags:  climate resilience  impact investing  Social entrepreneurship  women rising 

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Try, Win and Repeat

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Thursday, June 23, 2016

Miller Center Receives $1.5 Million Gift to Explore Replication of Successful Social-Entrepreneurship Business Models

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 21, 2016—Many social enterprises address similar problems afflicting the global poor—such as lack of access to drinking water or to clean, affordable energy—with highly localized solutions. But could the best solutions be better replicated across regions or industries, helping lift more people out of poverty more quickly? What if, for instance, a safe drinking water business validated in one location could be reproduced and introduced to other geographic regions that also lack potable water?


To help answer such questions, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Jon Freeman has given $1.5 million to Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship to explore the best ways to replicate effective social business models.


"Social enterprises participating in Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) programs emerge with substantiated and scalable business models. But to meaningfully address the pressing problems of poverty, we need to amplify the scaling process by working on multiple successful business models in parallel, reproducing and launching them in other geographic regions,” said Thane Kreiner, executive director of Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “While social enterprise replication is not a new idea, Jon’s gift funds a concerted effort to replicate effective social business models globally.”

 

Replicating proven social enterprise business models, rather than starting over from scratch, can significantly decrease the time and resources spent on getting a social enterprise up and running. In addition, replicated enterprises also present reduced risks for impact investors. The key, however, is to ensure that the underlying business model is adapted and tailored to the specific needs of the new locale.


“I have always believed that the way to tackle challenges such as poverty or the negative impacts of climate change is by eradicating the barriers to opportunity,” said Freeman, president and principal owner of real estate investment firm Stonecrest Financial, and Miller Center advisory board member. “Social entrepreneurs are more likely to build successful enterprises if they can start with a blueprint or proof of concept that has already been developed and confirmed somewhere else in the real world.”


Miller Center Is Innovating Replication Paradigms

Miller Center defines replication broadly, to include opening new branches of a social enterprise in different areas; offering business models to others in licensing or open-sourcing arrangements; and franchising. Miller Center will use the $1.5 million gift to experiment with replication paradigms to understand what routes lead to the greatest impact soonest.

 

The ingredients of these replication paradigms include:

  • Identifying “originating” social enterprises that have proven business models and technology or service innovations. Miller Center has mentored and trained 570 Miller Center GSBI alumni: social enterprises with well-honed business models whose social entrepreneurs have had in-depth mentoring from leading Silicon Valley executives. Miller Center will document business models and best practices—including type of supply chain, distribution models, operating and sales manuals, marketing programs and more—so that new enterprises tackling the same issues have a head start in implementing their own businesses.
  • Conducting market research to analyze local beneficiary needs, attitudes, and other market conditions. Miller Center’s network of locally based, social entrepreneurship support partners can provide important on-the-ground research about both originating social enterprises and potential replication targets.
  • Identifying entrepreneurs who have the right acumen, passion, and commitment to operate replicated enterprises. Social entrepreneurs interested in franchising, licensing, or replicating successful business models might have different expertise or focus than the originating entrepreneurs—for instance, greater interest in operations than ideation.
  • Replicating incubation, and acceleration services. Miller Center will take advantage of its strong, local, in-country partners to work with both originating and replicating entrepreneurs to localize appropriate business models, and to support the transfer and growth of those business models from the originating to the replicating entrepreneurs.

About Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®), Impact Capital, and Education and Action Research. To learn more about the Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, visit www.scu.edu/MillerCenter.

 

Tags:  replication  social entrepreneurship 

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Join us: Unlikely Allies, July 5-6, Seattle

Posted By Elisabeth Cramer, Impact Hub, Thursday, June 9, 2016

Calling all urban innovators! Register now for Unlikely Allies: Future of Cities Festival in Seattle, Washington, USA, July 5-6, 2016.

Unlikely Allies is an annual two-day festival that takes place in a new city each year. We are expecting over 500 attendees from 80+ global cities, from across the US and from the greater Seattle community to gather for this event which will showcase the latest thinking, technology, best practices, innovations and ideas around the Future of Cities.

The international festival is hosted by the global Impact Hub network, and will include speakers such as Majora Carter of MGC Consulting LLC / Startup Box, Carol Coletta of the Kresge Foundation, and other thought leaders from organizations such as Change.org, MercyCorps, Microsoft, Nesta, the RSA, Techsoup, and WWF.

See this year's program and read more about the festival here!

Tags:  ANDE Members  entrepreneurship ecosystems  Impact Hub  innovation  sustainability  Training & Events 

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Partnerships to impact low-income markets in Kenya and East Africa

Posted By Chandrakant Komaragiri, Ennovent, Friday, June 3, 2016
Updated: Friday, June 3, 2016

Ennovent is seeking partners who work in sectors including Education, Healthcare, Agri-business, Finance, WASH,  Energy and others, who are interested in collaborating on business opportunities in Kenya. Partners can be individuals and organisations including consultants, development agencies, foundations, investors and corporations.


Benefits for partners will include the opportunity to collaborate with a diversified network, develop and implement innovation projects to address business opportunities, and build on knowledge and expertise on pertinent issues.


If you are interested in partnering with Ennovent, please fill out this short form, and we will be in touch with you.


We would also like to request you to share this exciting partnership opportunity widely in your network and help in making a sustainable impact in Kenya together.

Tags:  Africa  Agriculture  Base of the Pyramid  Creating Shared Value  East Africa  entrepreneurship ecosystems  inclusive innovation  Kenya  Private sector development  social innovation  sustainability  sustainable development 

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Talent for the Future: Sourcing Job Opportunities for Trained Professionals in Social Enterprise Management and Impact Investing

Posted By Erina McWilliam-Lopez, Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of Internationa, Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Agile, Sharp, Passionate...Prepared
The Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) is sourcing field assignment opportunities for our upcoming June 2016 FMS fellows. We select and train talented professionals from around the globe. After completing the FMS certificate training in social enterprise management and impact investing, our trainees become FMS Fellows, otherwise know as capable and competitive candidates for social start-ups and impact investors. Our sweet spot is preparing and coaching professionals to be effective and focused while navigating the challenges of a growing enterprise. We know that business expertise such as marketing and operations is good on paper, but we look for proof that our candidates have the ability to effectively implement in a variety of fast-paced and ambiguous environments. We find people who are resilient, clear-minded, curious, and above all–people who play well with others! 
 

A snapshot of the FMS fellowship candidate group is below:
  • An average of 3-5 years of work experience in diverse industries including finance, banking, management consulting, international development, philanthropy and non-profit management. 
  • Graduates from some of the world’s top universities. 
  • Trained in social enterprise management, financial modeling and analysis, portfolio management, impact measurement, and social business design. 
  •  A group of 350+ FMS alumni. The expansive and diverse FMS talent pipeline includes alumni candidates who are available for permanent positions that support a wide range of business needs. 

 

Below are two ways to engage depending on where you are at in identifying talent needs: 


1. Interested but want to chat with us first? Click here to complete our partner sign up form.

2. Ready to submit an opportunity? Download our 
 job description template and submit to fmspartners@miis.edu
 
Do you know an enterprise or organization that may benefit from partnering with FMS?

Nominate an organization or enterprise by contacting Partner Engagement Associate Christina Lukeman at fmspartners@miis.edu.


To learn more please contact Christina Lukeman, Partnership Coordinator at fmspartners.miis.edu or visit go.miis.edu/fms

Tags:  entrepreneurship  impact investing  social enterprise  social impact 

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Announcing a New Impact Investing “Hard Skills” 2-Day Clinic: Financial Analysis and Modeling for Social Businesses, Projects and Impact Investing Funds

Posted By Erina McWilliam-Lopez, Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of Internationa, Friday, April 8, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, May 25, 2016
What hard skills are required for a career in the impact investing? For starters, you are going to need to know the difference between debt and equity. You must be able to understand financial statements and how to create a financial model, analyses, and forecasting.

What is a social enterprise? What does “impact” really mean? The “impact space” spans across all industries. It is an exciting new approach that uses finance and business as a tool to address pressing environmental and social needs. Many purpose-driven people have worked “close to the impact” through the Peace Corps, or with a local nonprofit. However, the essential frameworks for social business design can be challenging to distinguish for those who have little or no background in basic finance.

We’ve designed a 2-day intensive clinic focused on the essential frameworks for financial analysis and modeling for social impact. The clinic is a comprehensive introduction that will break down key concepts. It has been designed as a primer to the Frontier Market Scouts (FMS) certificate training in social enterprise management and impact investing.

The clinic takes place the weekend prior to the upcoming FMS Monterey certificate training—June 4 & 5, 2016. It is ideal for incoming FMS participants as well as past alums who lack a solid background in finance. This course is also an excellent opportunity for professionals interested in gaining a foundational starting point for understanding how impact investing and social enterprise works. Check out the schedule for a break down of each day.

Workshop Fee: $450 (special pricing available for FMS participants)

To apply, submit your information here – https://fms1.typeform.com/to/x0JSWn

Course Instructor

Kim Kastorff founded both Kimpacto, Inc. and Global Success Fund, after many years in banking, investments, social responsibility & education, and understanding that social entrepreneurs & global businesses need affordable financial services, funding and greater collaboration, plus the increasing importance to demonstrate social impact. Today, there is an increasing trend for ‘Maximizing financial + social impact.’  Kimpacto further supports impact investors in connecting their personal mission with impact funds and social investment opportunities.

Kim’s goal is to promote financial inclusion and push for a more educated and financially sustainable global environment.  As a Benefit Corporation and Certified B Corporation, Kimpacto, Inc. is held to our global mission and a higher level of social, environmental, community and governance standards.
Kim is fluent in English & Spanish and brings her global finance, investment banking and Big 4 Consulting experience (U.S., Europe & Latin America) and holds an MBA in Finance, and a Masters in Research – Impact Investing and FINRA Securities Licenses (7, 63, 65).

THE CENTER FOR SOCIAL IMPACT LEARNING (CSIL) was founded at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in July 2014 to proactively advance millennial engagement in the emerging fields of Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing through three interrelated lenses: Academic, Experiential, and Action Research.

CSIL stands out among today’s impact-driven career programs because it’s designed to serve the full spectrum of emerging social entrepreneurs—from undergraduates to graduate students to accomplished professionals, offering them both valuable learning experiences in the social enterprise field and seamless transitions from one stage of professional development to the next. With a focus on social enterprise management and impact investing, CSIL offers world-class experiential learning opportunities including a unique career launchpad program named the Ambassador Corps, and the award-winning Frontier Market Scouts fellowship and training program.  CSIL acts as a vehicle for positive impact in communities around the world by partnering with small and growing social sector businesses and responsible investment funds seeking new talent, and then matching them with globally-minded and diversely-skilled professionals.  Visit go.miis.edu/csil

Programs

TheFrontier Market Scouts Fellowship Program
An award winning two-week certificate training program and corresponding social sector fellowship opportunity for young professionals and graduate students who seek a career in social enterprise management and impact investing. Visit: go.miis.edu/fms

Research Lab
An action oriented research unit focusing on case study analyses in emerging markets and seed state social venture management, with an emphasis in utilizing impact metrics and enterprise risk. The Research Lab launched January 2015, under the direction of Dr. Yuwei Shi.

Ambassador Corps
The Ambassador Corps program connects students to the front line of social impact with unique global internship opportunities.A select group of thetop undergraduate university students from across the US are chosen to do an 8 to 10 week international summer internships. Visit: go.miis.edu/ambcorps

 


 Attached Files:
Clinic Flyer.pdf (214.94 KB)

Tags:  Access to finance  bootcamp  early stage ecosystem  emerging markets  impact investing  impact valuation  jobs  mentoring  metrics and research  professional development  social enterprise  Social entrepreneurship  social impact  training 

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Impact Investing in Emerging Markets Conference

Posted By Ryan Glasgo, Palladium, Thursday, March 31, 2016
Updated: Thursday, March 31, 2016

Dear All,  

 As you may be aware, we’re planning to host a conference on Impact Investing in Emerging Markets in June and the registration for the conference is now up and running (website here).

Here’s a brief paragraph that outlines the conference for reference:

Can Impact Investing truly address social and environmental concerns in emerging markets while simultaneously achieving expected financial returns? If so, how?

 Join us for a stimulating 1 day conference on Impact Investing in Emerging Markets - Bridging the Gap between Aid & Investment on 10 June 2016 at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford as we share and explore some of the key themes and challenges at the core of Impact Investing in emerging markets.

Themes to be covered will include: exits, financial returns, impact reporting, innovative financing and geographic considerations by a selection of high quality speakers, moderators and panelists all of whom are experienced practitioners engaged in emerging markets and/or impact investing. In addition, there will be ample opportunities for effective networking in between the sessions and a networking drinks reception scheduled at the end of the day.

Full event details are available on our attached brochure and if you wish to attend the event, REGISTRATION is available here. If you have any additional inquiries or require registration support, please feel free to contact Derrick or Alyssia from our Training & Events team.

Best, 

Ryan

Download File (PDF)

Tags:  conference  emerging markets  impact investing 

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GE and Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Partner to Accelerate Mother and Child Health Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Posted By Patricia Haines, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University, Tuesday, March 29, 2016

 GE and Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Partner to Accelerate 

Mother and Child Health Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa 

GE’s healthymagination commitment and Miller Center’s GSBI® will provide expertise, resources and growth opportunities for social entrepreneurs working on maternal and child health 

 

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 29, 2016 - GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship today announced a partnership that blends Silicon Valley entrepreneurial acumen with venture impact investing to tackle one of the world’s most pressing problems: maternal and child health. 

The partnership will focus on a training and mentoring program for social entrepreneurs working on maternal and child health innovations in sub-Saharan Africa. The program enables more women to experience better health by improving the quality, access and affordability of care. 

 

The partnership objectives support key elements of ‘Good Health and Well-being’, which is #3 of the 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” set by the United Nations, and focuses on the reduction of the global maternal mortality ratio and ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age. 

The healthymagination Mother & Child program will help social enterprises operating in sub-Saharan Africa addressing maternal and/or child health strengthen their business models, refine business plans, reinforce organizational development, manage talent and learn how to scale sustainably. The program is being offered to 15-to-20 selected participants. 

 

“This program supports GE’s long track record in developing innovations for emerging markets while increasing positive health outcomes,” said Sue Siegel, CEO, GE Ventures and healthymagination. “We are excited to join Miller Center to accelerate the growth of social enterprises and commercialize innovative ideas while serving as a resource for entrepreneurs working to improve access, affordability and quality of maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa.” 

 

The healthymagination Mother & Child program utilizes Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) methodology, which has been proven and refined over 12 years of helping accelerate more than 560 social enterprises worldwide. The program will begin with a three-day, in-person workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, followed by a six-month online program accompanied by weekly, in-depth mentoring from Silicon Valley-based executives. Additionally, by introducing participants to GE’s portfolio of products, organizations will gain specialized support and training on technologies and resources for the maternal and child health sector. 

 

“We share GE’s healthymagination vision for innovating new ways to address global health challenges,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. “The partnership between GE and Miller Center highlights the potential for social entrepreneurship to improve maternal and child health in a region of the world that has limited access to skilled health care providers.” 

 

“This unique collaboration is an opportunity to increase the access and familiarity of GE solutions in Africa,” said Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa. "The healthymagination Mother & Child program will empower sub-Saharan African social enterprises with skills training and economic development needed to improve maternal and child health across communities." 

 

Social Enterprises Invited to Apply to the Program 

The healthymagination Mother & Child program is aimed at social enterprises focused in the following areas: 

  • Delivery of health services to mothers and children 
  • Medical equipment distribution, training, use or maintenance 
  • Development of products or technologies that improve knowledge and/or access to care, such as telemedicine, mobile technologies, data analysis or image interpretation or 
  • Infrastructure services or facilities associated with needs from pregnancy to pediatric care 

To be considered for the program, qualified leaders of for-profit, non-profit or hybrid enterprises need to apply online by May 18, 2016. The selected finalists will be announced after a formal review and interview process by a panel of judges from GE and Miller Center. 

 

The panel will evaluate applicant social enterprises based on whether they: 

  • Have operating ventures beyond the ideation stage 
  • Have a validated business model with a product or service in the marketplace 
  • Have a sustainable financial model that can be scaled over time 

Six-Month Accelerator Program Capped by Investor Showcase 

The healthymagination Mother & Child program will end where it launched, in Nairobi, with an Investor Showcase event in February 2017. The 15-to-20 program finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their enterprises and health care innovations to a large and wide-ranging group of active investors in early-stage social enterprises. 

 

For more information on the program and application, visit http://www.scu.edu/mother-and-child 

 

About GE 

GE (NYSE: GE) is the world’s Digital Industrial Company, transforming industry with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. GE is organized around a global exchange of knowledge, the "GE Store," through which each business shares and accesses the same technology, markets, structure and intellect. Each invention further fuels innovation and application across our industrial sectors. With people, services, technology and scale, GE delivers better outcomes for customers by speaking the language of industry. www.ge.com 

 

About GE’s healthymagination commitment 

GE’s healthymagination commitment is about better health for more people. We continuously develop and invest in innovations that deliver high-quality, more affordable healthcare to more people around the world. For more information about our healthymagination commitment, visit www.gesustainability.com

 

About Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship 

Founded in 1997, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship is one of three Centers of Distinction at Santa Clara University. Miller Center accelerates global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. Its strategic focus is on poverty eradication through its three areas of work: The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI), Impact Capital and Education and Action Research. To learn more about Miller Center or any of its social entrepreneurship programs, visit www.scu.edu/MillerCenter. 

 

About Santa Clara University 

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.’s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu. 

 

© 2016 GSBI is a registered trademark of Santa Clara University. All rights reserved.

 

Tags:  Africa  ANDE Africa  social entrepreneurship  Women 

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Running Without Shoes: Plight of the Smallholder Farmer

Posted By Simone Fugar, Esoko, Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A blog by Hillary Miller-Wise, CEO of Esoko 

Imagine you had to run a 10 km race without running shoes. Certainly you would make do with what you had, but you probably would end up blistered and near the back of the pack. In a simplistic way, this is what smallholder farmers in Africa experience every day. But in their case, their lives depend on it.

Most smallholder farmers in Africa are farming without the tools and knowledge they need. They don’t have access to inputs like quality seed and fertilizer that would allow them to produce more. Some countries have tried to solve this problem by subsidizing inputs with the intention of making them more affordable. In the end, though, the result is like giving the runner one shoe to run the race.

Subsidies are fraught with problems. Often the administration is so poor that the inputs don’t arrive in time for the season. Those who benefit most tend to be less-poor, more highly educated, well-connected and men. Subsidies tend to “crowd out” private sector supply, and they often drive farmers to over-produce the subsidized crop, such as maize, which can lead to negative changes in diet and nutrition as production of other crops like legumes is reduced.

Even when smallholder farmers are able to procure subsidized inputs, the product is often still too expensive for them. In Ghana, for example, a bag of fertilizer on the open market costs Ghs 120, or about $30. The government subsidy reduces the price to Ghs 90, or about $23. While the lower price certainly helps, it is still out of reach for many smallholder farmers, who have little cash at the time that they need to purchase the inputs. This is the main problem: it’s often not a question of overall income for farmers, but rather of cash flow. Farmers may well be able to afford inputs right after harvest, but they are often out of cash just prior to the planting season. And most of these farmers can’t borrow money to bridge the gap because, as we know, most banks won’t lend to them. One of the few options left is to borrow informally at very high interest rates, which eats into their profits at harvest time.

In order to break this cycle, farmers need to accumulate financial assets from production surpluses. In other words, they need to put some of the money they earn during harvest time into savings in order to purchase quality inputs for the next season.

Savings practices are already very widespread among more commercially-oriented smallholder farmers, as documented by CGAP in its recently published Smallholder Diaries report. Many smallholders keep their savings in-kind or under the mattress, presenting a clear opportunity to offer them more avenues to store money.

For less commercially-oriented smallholders, improved agronomic practices and better agricultural risk management would also be important, according to CGAP. Off-takers interested in reaching smallholders, for example, would need to bundle agronomic support and financial tools, the report says.

While subsidized inputs have proven to increase production for smallholder farmers who are able to access them, they tend to treat the symptom rather than the underlying disease, which is, at least in part, a combination of the high cost of inputs, farmers’ inability to store money safely when they can, and poor knowledge of improved agricultural practices to increase the return on investment when they are able to procure the inputs.

To tackle these problems in a sustainable way, we need to improve the way that input and financial markets function for poor smallholders. One way to do this is by creating incentives for smallholders to save and invest in their farm. These incentives should include access to discounted inputs based on market principles such as bulk purchases, access to vital market and agronomic information, guaranteed yield increases and protection against crop failure, and access to markets.

An input subsidy is like giving a runner one running shoe. Creating market incentives for smallholders to save and invest in their farms is like giving the runner the complete pair and the motivation to cross the finish line.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  access to finance  Africa  agriculture  fintech  ICT4D  inputs  smallholder farmers  social entrepreneurship 

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