About the Insights Hub

The Insights Hub at a glance

The first resource of its kind, the FarmFit Insights Hub promotes a rigorous understanding of how smallholder inclusive business models can deliver positive outcomes for businesses and the farmers with whom they work. The Hub builds on quantitative and qualitative data from over 100 business models from around the world. Through the Insights Hub, IDH FarmFit provides rigorous analytical insights on smallholder inclusive business models, with the aim of providing practical recommendations that lead to sustainable returns on investment for businesses and smallholder farmers.

Smallholder agricultural markets have massive funding needs that the public and philanthropic sectors will not be able to meet alone. The private sector, therefore, has a vital role to play in meeting these needs – specifically, through the scaling up of existing and development of new smallholder inclusive business models in which smallholder farmers are seen as customers and business partners. 

Attracting companies and investors means moving away from more traditional development and CSR approaches, and towards adopting a business-angled lens. This shift facilitates better design, decision making, intervention and investment in smallholder markets. 

Check out our thinking on the New Paradigm to read more about why this matters.

How you can use the FarmFit Insights Hub

Our Approach

We’re convinced that smallholder agricultural markets – at least in certain contexts – have the potential to become more inclusive, sustainable and commercially viable. 

In 2015, IDH FarmFit developed a quantitative, data-driven and standardized methodology to analyze the efficiency, effectiveness, commercial viability and scalability of business models serving (and often also sourcing from) smallholder farmers. Using this unique and innovative methodology, our teams have conducted over 100 business model analyses across 22 countries and 25 value chains, and collected primary data on over 10,000 farmers to date

When put together, our assessments allow us to identify patterns at aggregate level. These patterns include key challenges in smallholder supply chains and the relationship between performance outcomes – for both companies and farmers – across a variety of different contexts.

Our approach involves consistently capturing both quantitative and qualitative insights. We capture and calculate our data in a harmonized manner: everything that we gather is done in a standardized way, allowing us to aggregate and compare the data. Our approach makes IDH FarmFit a frontrunner in the sector. This foundation serves as a strong basis for benchmarking performance across business models, helping investors, businesses and support organizations make more informed decisions.

We complement our quantitative data with qualitative insights, focusing on the social, economic, business and enabling environment context. In order to capture this data, we leverage our previous and ongoing work with businesses in strengthening and enhancing their business models. This work includes 17 FarmFit Technical Assistance (TA) engagements, through which we’ve provided three years of additional business support, finance assistance and advisory. It also includes the 100 business model assessments we’ve conducted to date.

We use the qualitative insights from our TA engagements and business model analyses to provide more information on the What, but also on Why and How things change and are implemented. We also add contextual nuance and practical advice.

Ample and applicable datasets

Since 2015, we’ve been building, managing and developing one of the most holistic and unique datasets in the sector, totalling 2 million data points and counting. Our dataset includes detailed Profit and Loss (P&L) data, contextual and performance indicators, detailed farmer surveys and in-depth qualitative data, all combined under a structured research and learning agenda. This database of analyzed business models, plus our sophisticated in-house analytical capabilities, active TA portfolio and highly engaged donor and partner base enable us to develop insights with a high degree of rigor.

Today, we’re able to conduct advanced analytics to pinpoint the  relative importance of different performance drivers and their interdependence. We’re also able to interpret insights from a business perspective for a more nuanced narrative. This is the backbone of the data-driven approach we’re championing. An approach that enables us to move beyond the traditional methodologies of the past, which many of our peers still use to generate insights and support decision making.

And our journey is far from over! FarmFit will continue to analyze business models and grow our quantitative and qualitative databases. We’ll expand our efforts to gain insights on topics such as climate change and gender equality, while conducting deep dives on sector and context-specific challenges and opportunities. And, we’ll always seek ways of connecting our data to that of others; without such collaboration, a sector-wide transformation in the sustainability of smallholder farmer business models is simply not possible.

To learn more about the methodological approach used to generate the insights within this Hub, click here.

Our Journey

IDH FarmFit Intelligence and Business Analytics

IDH FarmFit Intelligence disseminates groundbreaking insights, backed by data,​​​​ to agribusinesses, helping to ensure that smallholder investments are attractive and impactful. Our unique FarmFit Insights Hub employs a learning framework to drive innovative recommendations, enhancing efficiency, commercial viability, scalability, and practicality. These insights empower businesses, investors, and support organizations to make informed decisions, fostering profitability and sustainability in collaborations with smallholder farmers.

Our Business Analytics team evaluates business models and provides tailored strategies that resonate with companies, smallholder suppliers, and their clients. Companies use our recommendations for internal strategy and alignment, communication and negotiation with partners, and fundraising. Our extensive experience spans various value chains, from coffee to maize to palm oil, working with food and beverage companies, local aggregators, input and financial service providers, and digital platforms.   

The foundations for IDH Farmfit were established in 2015, following support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). This support has enabled us to scale our inclusive business model analyses and provide vital technical assistance to businesses globally. It also helped us to develop more rigorous data analytics methods and capabilities, as well as benchmarking and practical guidelines for companies, investors and governments.

As a collaborative change agent and convener, we work with a range of partners to share our data and insights more effectively. We also coordinate with the IDH Farmfit Fund, a public-private impact fund for smallholder farmers. The Fund’s innovative structure de-risks investments in smallholder farming and helps drive sustainable impact by showcasing the commercial opportunity represented by smallholder farming finance. The Fund is managed by IDH Invest and operates independently from IDH Farmfit and the FarmFit Insights Hub.


IDH convenes companies, CSOs, governments and others in public-private partnerships. Together, we drive the joint design, co-funding and prototyping of new economically viable approaches to realize green and inclusive growth at scale in commodity sectors and sourcing areas.

Click here for the IDH website.