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Market-Led Approaches and Revenue Generation Key to Sustainable Development


NCBA CLUSA, along with iMerit, led a round table discussion at the Microsoft sponsored LINGOs Global Learning Forum held in Little Rock, Arkansas last month where 66 member organizations met to connect, engage and transform how the industry manages knowledge and programs to be more effective.

Leading a round table for over 50 participants on market-led approaches, NCBA CLUSA Vice President of International Operations, Gretchen Villegas, presented some of the program designs NCBA CLUSA uses in the field to create a sustainable exit strategy and leave a foundation of revenue generation for clients.

Tangible takeaways included exploring ways to create entrepreneurship opportunities instead of direct subsidies or hand-outs in implementation designs as well as how to identify the economics in planning exit strategies.

“As a result of the round table, organizations shared the view that facilitating impact through income generation is more sustainable, however it will take some new designs with market-led approaches to unlock the potential for most organizations as this has not been the industry standard,” said Villegas. “Organizations like NCBA CLUSA and iMerit are among the leaders.”

The forum was hosted by LINGOs, the international NGO sector’s largest membership-based consortium dedicated solely to training and capacity building. It has a membership of over 80 international humanitarian relief, development, conservation and social justice organizations.

The NCBA CLUSA and iMerit session focused on examples of how an organization would be able to reach large percentages of vulnerable populations and still ensure that the intervention will be sustained once the support is withdrawn. Much of building a sustainable model relies on capacity building for organizations in the field. For example, in working with NCBA CLUSA, producer organizations and smallholder farmers receive training on entrepreneurship and business principles in addition to agriculture techniques, which facilitates stronger links to markets and the potential for long-term buyer relationships.

In some of our programs, such as Yaajeende in Senegal, funded by USAID, or the recently closed Uganda Conservation Farming Initiative (UCFI), funded by USDA, Community-based service providers (CBSPs) sell inputs or provide services as part of a business strategy. CBSPs generate revenue for themselves as well as provide rural communities access to goods and services such as seeds or nutritional products such as dried fruits or processed millet they would not have access to otherwise.

In Uganda, CBSPs provided services like field spraying, resulting in over $500,000 USD in revenue generation, and the tools and skills to continue the business long after the program closes. Based on the success of UCFI, our current program in Uganda, the Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture Initiative (YETA), in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, will be training youth not only in agricultural production techniques, but will also emphasis business skills and agribusiness. Over five years, YETA aims to train over 25,000 youth in these skills, establishing over 20,000 farms or agribusinesses.

As program development solicitations increasingly require concrete exit strategies, understanding how those exit strategies inform program development and operations from the beginning leads to a more sustainable program overall.

(November 10, 2015)

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