Print Page   |   Sign In   |   Register
Notes from the Network
Blog Home All Blogs

Entrepreneurs Call for Urgent Need to Rethink Asia's Agribusiness

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, November 28, 2018

BANGKOK, November 22, 2018 – What is the business case – the ideal eco-system – for sustainable agriculture and forestry?  Is certification worth the cost? How to feed a growing world as youths leave farming? From Thai social enterprises working with organic rice farmers to one of the world’s largest coffee producers, speakers at Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs’ (ANDE) inaugural lab on sustainable agriculture, held in Bangkok on November 22, brainstormed a new agricultural eco-system to feed a growing world with shrinking natural resources.

“There’s no getting around it: we need more active participants in this evolving ecosystem,” said Angela Hogg, the Environment Office Director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Asia. “Asia’s food security and environmental protection goals cannot be met without more smallholder producers and businesses adopting more sustainable practices.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates smallholder producers supply some 80 percent of the world’s food.

The challenge to transform agriculture is ambitious and the time short, added Hogg, referring to a recent UN report that called for “unprecedented” action to cut carbon emissions.

USAID Green Invest Asia, a facility brokering private sector investments in Asia’s mid-sized sustainable businesses launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development, led the event.  “Current investment is insufficient based on Asia’s projected food needs, alone,” said Christy Owen, the facility’s director. “We need to find a new way to do agribusiness. Urgently.”

DBS, a financial services firm, and the UN Environment Programme have estimated an additional $400 billion is needed between now and 2030 to adequately protect the people, environment and economies of ASEAN countries from the worst effects of climate change and land degradation.

Citibank Foundation, UN Capital Development Fund, the online lending platform Kiva and Asia Development Bank were among the more than 40 attendees.  Kiva’s largest lending sector is agriculture, said Mark McDonagh, its investment manager in the Asia-Pacific region.

While most of Kiva’s loans are micro-loans of $5,000 or less, there is a growing number of larger loans going to social enterprises, mostly in the field of agriculture, said McDonagh. “A flexible agriculture loan isn’t rocket science. The issue is whether an investor has the risk appetite.”

Barriers

Relatively few businesses participate in the sustainable marketplace, with most actors coming from multinational corporations.  In breakout sessions to suggest ways to build a new agricultural economy, access to flexible agriculture loans and breaking into the global green marketplace surfaced as common themes.

The U.S. Government identified this gap when founding the USAID Green Invest Asia facility, which helps sustainable businesses become investment ready and links them to investors interested in the triple bottom line, an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental and financial.

McDonagh, who helps direct lenders to investments that match their interests, said lenders have always valued innovation in choosing projects to fund.

Solutions

“Farmers are, by nature, hackers,” said Bryan Hugill, co-owner of the Thailand-based social enterprise, Raitong Organics. His 11-year-old farm has 43 ongoing innovation experiments, some in coordination with research labs worldwide, including: biodynamic rice farming where chemical fertilizers are replaced with natural bacteria; microbial fuel cells, or the use of bacteria to drive electric currents; deep-litter pig farming; stingless beekeeping, and cataloguing effective microorganisms.

Additional labs on innovation in agriculture to be organized by ANDE include: lessons learned in agricultural technology with USAID Feed the Future Asia; the role of women as sustainable consumers and investors with ANDE, and agricultural service delivery to smallholder farmers with Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

Read the original press release here. 

Tags:  Agribusiness  Agriculture  Asia  Learning Lab  USAID 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

The Future of Fresh: Rethinking Our Food Systems at The First Mile of Distribution

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Monday, November 12, 2018
Updated: Monday, November 12, 2018

To all ANDE members, this is a formal invitation to join InspiraFarms side event, The Future of Fresh: Rethinking Our Food Systems at The First Mile of Distribution, the 20th of November, 2018, 6pm. 

We will follow the Financial Times Global Food Systems event with food, drinks and a vivid discussion around challenges and solutions for first-mile distribution, emerging market agribusiness competitiveness and sustainability, and their access to export markets in the UK and beyond.

InspiraFarms CEO, Tim Chambers, will open the event, and welcome our key note speaker Dan Haglund, Senior Private Sector Development Adviser, at the Department for International Development (DFID) who will talk about ‘The role of the private sector in transforming the global food industry into a more sustainable and inclusive system.’

We will present the international joint research project, in partnership with the private sector, DFID and the Shell Foundation, analysing solutions to post-harvest food losses and sharing insights from ongoing field trials.

Julie Hanson, European Director of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, ‘The cold chain industry’s response to the first mile distribution challenge.’

The event will conclude with the debut of a new mini-documentary, ‘The Future of Fresh - rethinking our food systems at the first mile of distribution’.

Join us!!

To register send us an email to inspira@gongcommunications.com 

http://www.inspirafarms.com/the-future-of-fresh-side-event/

Download File (PDF)

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  agribusiness  Agriculture  impact investing 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

GroFin - Transforming SGBs in Africa & the Middle East

Posted By Shailen Neewoor, GroFin, Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018

Gain a deeper understanding of how GroFin, through its unique investment model in SGBs, is positively transforming small and growing businesses and the local communities they support. The inspiring success stories of its entrepreneurs exemplify the collaborative efforts of GroFin staff, investors, partners and clients. The 2017 GroFin Impact Report, Nomou Impact Report and Aspire Impact Report translates its faith in the power of the collective by asking the question “If not us, who? If not today, when? If not with our finance and support, how will these small businesses grow and succeed?”

2017 GroFin Impact Report

As at end 2017, GroFin has financed 675 small and growing businesses, supported 8,840 entrepreneurs, sustained a total of 86,190 jobs and touched the lives of 430,955 family members in the local communities across our 15 locations of operation in Africa and the Middle East. The report indicates that GroFin has made more investments in its priority sectors of education, healthcare, agribusiness, manufacturing and key services. Furthermore, GroFin invested US$ 60M in nearly 88 new small and growing businesses, with over 50% of the SMEs operating directly in our sectors of focus, sustaining 14,000 total jobs and supporting an additional 72,000 livelihoods. And to reinforce its value proposition of providing 'support beyond finance' the company introduced the GroFin STEP (Success through Effective Partnerships) Programme to support its SMEs and Entrepreneurs.

2017 Nomou Impact Report

The Nomou Programme is a regional initiative in MENA which was co-created by GroFin and Shell Foundation. As a result of the collaborative efforts of its investors, partners and clients, the Nomou programme is contributing to the alleviation of poverty and improvement of livelihoods in the communities where the programme operates, as well as striving to reduce the adverse impact of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

In 2017, the Nomou Programme supported 1,005 entrepreneurs, made investments into 103 SGBs, sustained a total of 10,287 jobs, touched the lives of 51,435 beneficiaries and added economic value of US$ 149 million per annum through its investee SMEs across Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Oman.

2017 Aspire Impact Report

Since their inception in 2014, the Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) and the Aspire Growth Fund (AGF) have sought to promote local entrepreneurship, employment and economic value-add in the Niger Delta. With the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) as anchor investor, the Aspire Enterprise Development Funds epitomise GroFin, a private development finance institution, and SPDC’s efforts to serve the local community with a combination of investment funds, business skills and market linkages.

In 2017 GroFin increased its commitment to supporting SMEs in the Niger Delta Region by investing in an additional 17 small and growing businesses and extending further funding of US$ 2.5M (140% increase from total amount invested as at end 2016). As at end of 2017, GroFin has supported 365 businesses, invested in 53 SMEs and sustained a total of 1,975 jobs under the Aspire Funds.

 Attached Files:

Tags:  2017  A Access to Finance  Access to Finance  Africa  Agriculture  ANDE Africa  ANDE Members  Base of the Pyramid  Business  business training  capacity development  DGGF  East Africa  education  finance  impact  impact investing  impact investing; gender lens investing; gender; w  impact investment  impact measurement  innovation  Investors  Kenya  MENA  missing middle  Philanthropy; impact investing  Private sector development  Rwanda  SDGs  SGB  SGBs  SGBs; accelerators; East Africa  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  SGBs; West Africa; Senegal; Africa; MENA; Entrepre  small and growing agrobusiness  smes  social impact  South Africa  sustainability  sustainable development  Tanzania  Training  Uganda  West Africa 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Upaya Social Ventures Accelerates Agri-Businesses in India to Create Jobs for Ultra Poor

Posted By Devyani Singh, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Upaya Social Ventures Announces Social Enterprises Selected for its Accelerator

11 innovative startups have been selected to join Upaya’s accelerator cohort focused on the agriculture industry in India.

Upaya Social Ventures today announced the 11 companies selected for its second accelerator program, which will target the agribusiness industry in India. The 11 participating companies were selected from a competitive pool of 281 applications by a committee of impact investing, agriculture, and social sector experts. The entrepreneurs represent cities across India and agriculture sub-sectors such as organics, processing and agri-waste.

About Upaya Social Ventures: Upaya creates dignified jobs for the poorest of the poor by building scalable businesses with investment and consulting support. Since 2011, Upaya has supported 14 small and growing businesses in India with investments and expertise. Upaya partners have created nearly 8,000 jobs. With offices in Seattle, Washington and Bangalore, India, Upaya has committed to a goal of helping partners create 15,000 jobs by the end of 2019. For more information about Upaya, visit www.upayasv.org.

Read the press release here (cohort overview attached)

Download File (PDF)

 Attached Files:

Tags:  agriculture  india  SGB  upaya 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

​Agora Partnerships Launches Application for 2017 Accelerator Cycle 2 Class

Posted By Elysa Neumann, Agora Partnerships, Thursday, March 9, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKRdMGQbY_Q&feature=youtu.be

 
Agora Partnerships has launched applications for its 2017 Accelerator program.
 
Through its flagship Accelerator program, Agora Partnerships strives to accelerate the shift to a sustainable economy by providing entrepreneurs who are intentionally building businesses that solve social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean with the resources they need to grow. Since 2011, 125 companies working in 19 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have participated in the Agora Accelerator, raising USD $52MM in capital and creating over 5,000 jobs. This year, in solidarity with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Agora Partnerships is aligning our Accelerator tracks to advance the SDGs.
 
The Accelerator is a 4-month program designed to provide high-potential entrepreneurs with the knowledge, network and access to capital necessary to create system change, through in-depth, personalized, 1:1 consulting; access to the Agora Partnerships’network of mentors, investors, and capital opportunities; and a global community of peers.
 
Agora’s Accelerator program is designed for companies who are solving social and environmental challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean, matching the following criteria: 
 
  • early or growth stage, past proof-of-concept; 
  • currently looking for investment to scale; 
  • legally incorporated as a for-profit structure with basic accounting systems in place; 
  • average annual income of USD $50K to $2MM; and, 
  • with a clear, measurable and sustainable impact.
 
Agora Partnerships looks to work with entrepreneurs who embody the leadership qualities of agency, empathy, curiosity and perseverance.
 
To apply to Agora Partnerships’ 2017 Accelerator click here.
 
###
 
Agora Partnerships is a network committed to leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs by finding innovative ways to drive more human, social, and financial capital to the leaders and ideas that will make our world a better place. To learn morevisit: AgoraPartnerships.org

Tags:  Acceleration  accelerators  Agriculture  Business  Caribbean  central america  energy  Entrepreneurship  Environment  impact  impact investing  impact investment  innovation  Latin America  nicaragua  SGBs; Environment; accelerators; energy  small and growing agrobusiness  social ent  social enterprise  social entrepreneurship  social impact  sustainability  talent  Women 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Bringing Food Safe Technology in Guatemala: Fair-Fruit & InspiraFarms

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Guatemala is now positioned as the world’s third-largest exporter of peas, and indigenous farmers living in the highlands produce 99 percent of these peas.

Guatemala’s participation in the global fresh vegetables and fruits market has required a rapid technological adaptation to changes in food safety requirements. When implemented, these technological adaptations ensure access to high-value and regulated markets such as USA and the EU.

The lack of availability of this kind of technology, such as food-safe cold storage, bulking and processing spaces, has become one of the major limiting factors in the competitiveness of smallholder farmers in export supply chains.

Small and growing agri-food companies and exporters have played an important role in facilitating the compliance of food-safe and quality certification standards of the smallholder production base. This is true in the case of Fair-Fruit, a Guatemalan company, who specialize in fresh fruit and vegetables destined for European markets.

In the past Fair-Fruit had been collecting all their produce from Salamá and transporting it to its main plant in Ciudad Vieja (Sacatepeqez) for processing, a six-hour trip which often resulted in produce spoiling and a loss of revenue.

In 2015 Fair-Fruit decided to place an InspiraFarms satellite Cold Storage and Food Processing Facility (an FP180) at their production site in Salamá. Fair-Fruit hoped to reduce produce spoilage and dehydration due to long distance transportation, as well as save money on their overall processing and transportation costs as their motivation for installing the FP180 at their production site.

According to Miguel Basterrechea at Fair-Fruit, “For many years we’ve budgeted 30% in quality and dehydration carrying the product for such long distances. Cooling down the product and working on quality close to harvest fields can reduce these losses in between 10% and 15%. With around 2,000,000 pounds harvested in a year we are talking of 240,000 more pounds per year, and at a US$0.73 per pound, this generates a net total of US$175,000 per year”.

 

To know more about InspiraFarms visit us at www.inspirafarms.com

You can know more about Fair-Fruit here

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Agriculture  central america  Guatemala  inclusive innovation  postharvest technology  small and growing agrobusiness 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Kigali Farms & !nspiraFarms partnered to bring the first solar powered cold storage plant to Rwanda

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Worldwide the mushroom industry is valued at US$20 billion, and in Rwanda the national government has been promoting the cultivation of mushrooms both for their economic potential and nutritional value.

Laurent Demuynck, CEO and Founder of Kigali Farms in Rwanda, started the social enterprise in 2010 with the twin goals of massively improving nutrition in rural areas and supplying high value produce to urban markets, domestically and as exports to the East African Community and beyond.

Says Demuynck,“our new button mushroom facility positions us to be the leading mushroom supplier in East Africa, with quite possibly the best button mushrooms produced anywhere in Africa. At the same time, our Kigali Farms team is driven to make oyster mushrooms the cheapest and easiest to grow source of protein for thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of smallholder farmers. Africa produces three times less commercial mushrooms than Australia, and we want to change that”.

The company started by producing and selling oyster mushroom growing kits for farmers and more recently using locally sourced wheat straw to grow fresh button mushrooms, which provide attractive margins in international markets. Kigali Farms has also begun to move further up the value chain, producing mushroom powder, which is used to fortify food products, and developing various packaged products, such as soups and sauces.

In 2015, Kigali Farms partnered with !nspiraFarms® and PSDAg* to bring the first solar powered cold storage plant to Rwanda as a cost-effective, reliable and low-carbon method to reduce post-harvest losses, maintain high quality and increase shelf-life of the mushrooms.

As Kigali Farms grows, it is engaging an increasingly large community of smallholder farmers. It provides its farmers with a combination of education and capacity development in conjunction with supplier contracts. With the capacity to process in excess of 250 metric tons of mushrooms per year and annually produce upwards of 300 ton of oyster mushroom growing kits, Kigali Farms continues to extend its outreach to local farmers across Rwanda.

To know more about Kigali Farms: http://www.kigalifarms.com/

To know more about !nspiraFarms: http://www.inspirafarms.com/

 

*The Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agriculture Growth (PSDAG) is a 5-Year project funded by USAID

 

Tags:  Agriculture  small and growing agrobusiness  smallholder farmers 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

Presenting the report Moving the Needle: Critical Success Factors for Scaling Asset Finance

Posted By Paula Rodriguez, InspiraFarms, Monday, October 17, 2016

A new report by Epven, with support from the Shell Foundation and the Small Foundation, explores the challenges and emerging solutions to scaling asset finance options for small and growing agribusinesses (SGBs) in developing countries.

 The investment opportunity in agribusiness assets in emerging economies runs into the billions of dollars. The social and environmental benefits that can be gained by reducing food losses, increasing employment and enterprise sustainability, as well as empowering women and rural communities, are equally significant.

 Despite this opportunity, most small-scale agribusinesses in developing countries lack access to reasonable financing options for acquiring such assets, falling into the “missing middle” and facing a combination of unrealistically high collateral requirements and unaffordable interest rates. It s estimated that formal financial institutions meet less than a sixth of the $200 billion in demand for financing from smallholder agribusiness globally.

 Asset financing is one form of finance that is quickly emerging as a promising new model with a growing number of providers diversifying into the sector. The report Moving the Needle: Critical Success Factors for Scaling Asset Finance examines the potential of asset finance to reverse this financing gap. Reflecting the first-hand experiences, innovations and perspectives of over 70 asset finance experts in Kenya, Guatemala, and India—the “coal-face” of the industry—the report highlights four critical success factors that drive scale in asset finance:  

1.     The asset must be liquid to act as its own collateral. There must be a market for the asset, and resale value must be measureable.

2.     SGBs must demonstrate their capability to effectively utilize the asset. The use of cash flows is recommended for the calculation of financial viability and creditworthiness.

3.     SGBs must have a stable and secure market for the expected outputs of the asset. Having secure contracts from buyers in the agricultural sector is a positive incentive for financial institutions and for securing a stable stream of revenues for SGB’s.

4.     Network organizations like ANDE, the GIIN and the Sustainable Food Lab support more and better ecosystem collaboration between technology companies, financial service providers and producers and buyers along the agricultural value chain.

The report summarizes key roles for the main actors of the asset finance ecosystem, followed by detailed recommendations for capacity developers, 2nd tier investors, donors, DFIs and foundations, technology companies, and the financial service providers at the coal face.

 

To read and download this report by Epven, with support from the Shell Foundation and the Small Foundation, please visit http://www.inspirafarms.com/articles-publications/

TITLE: Moving the Needle: Critical Success Factors for Scaling Asset Finance

Authors: Tim Chambers and Jack Luft

Contact Person: Tim Chambers (tchambers@epven.com)

 

 

 

Tags:  Access to Finance  Agriculture  ANDE Members  asset finance  farming  impact investing  impact investment  inclusive business  innovation  Investors  microfinance  post-harvest  small and growing agrobusiness  value addition 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

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 

PermalinkComments (2)
 

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 

PermalinkComments (0)
 
Page 1 of 3
1  |  2  |  3