Changing Private Sector-Smallholders Relationships for the Better: A Chat with FarmFit Insights Hub Creators

| 5 Sep, 2023

The IDH Intelligence team offers a clear view on the state of play between the private sector and smallholder markets; and how their FarmFit Insights Hub is working to change this for the better.

To meaningfully address the global poverty cycle, IDH acknowledges the imperative for more inclusive, sustainable and commercially viable agricultural markets. This will require massive additional investment in designing, building and scaling smallholder-inclusive business models, at a level that cannot be met by governments, donors and development agencies alone.

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Accelerating market transformation in smallholder agriculture necessitates both more and better, strategic, investment. Greater volumes of investment need to come from the private sector, and unlocking this requires demonstrating the potential for credible returns for businesses.

Bringing clarity to inclusive business models

It’s against this backdrop that the groundbreaking FarmFit Insights Hub has launched; a pioneering resource platform designed to connect companies, investors, donors and support organizations to the data and insights they need to make smarter decisions on where and how to invest in smallholder-inclusive business models. The development of the Hub is the result of a collaborative effort over the past eight years, involving various partners, and is now led by Carolijn Gommans, Director Intelligence Center, at IDH. Our communications team had the privilege of speaking with both her and Kafui Adjogatse, IDH’s Senior Innovation Manager, gaining valuable insight into the workings of and potential impact of the Hub. Below are excerpts from our conversation.

Q. Briefly, why does the FarmFit Insights Hub exist? 

CarolijnThe Hub exists to bring greater clarity to the economics and impact of smallholder-inclusive business models, and to shift private sector perceptions of investments made into smallholder agriculture. A real change is needed in terms of how the private sector views smallholder farmers. It’s time to view them as customers and business partners, rather than ‘beneficiaries’, as a start. Only then can we see and prove the true commercial viability of engaging in smallholder markets.

Q. Who should use it?

CarolijnBusinesses, investors, support organizations, and donors working directly or indirectly with smallholder farmers. Our aim is to create and keep building on a dynamic platform that will, in the long-term, facilitate meaningful amongst these key stakeholders. We believe that this is the way to build an ecosystem that really empowers and uplifts smallholder farmers. In terms of location, the Hub is most definitely a global-facing resource.

Q. What makes this something unique?

KafuiAbove all, it is the evidence and data-informed approach that has been consistently applied over several years. When it comes to generating rigorous evidence most attention in the sector has been focused on farm-level impact . The Hub aims to change this for the better, creating a central resource where different actors can engage to better inform their own decision-making.

Q. So, what kind of resources will businesses find there?

CarolijnOn the FarmFit Insights Hub, users can access a range of knowledge resources to leverage insights, including innovation guides, business modeling tools and data exploration tools, empowering them to make informed decisions and drive growth in their ventures.

KafuiIt’s so important that the Hub’s resources and guidance are actionable. With this in mind, we’re continuing to develop the content so that it provides practical guidance on how to implement innovations and practices, easily-utilized tools for benchmarking and, importantly, inspiration from how other organizations have constructed their inclusive business models.

The FarmFit Insights Hub has been organised to cater to the unique interests of three distinct categories of audiences as shown in the diagram below. This user journey ensures that information is readily accessible and relevant to each group.

Ultimately, the Hub provides evidence and insights to inform decision-making, whether that is to determine investment strategies, or how to better engage with grantees and investees.

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CarolijnThe Hub is positioned between two insights ‘perspectives’; case studies and data collection and analysis. Through the Hub, we aim to combine the best of both worlds by providing accessible takeaways and with a higher degree of rigor than that used in case study-based approaches. We aimed to make it easy for users to access exactly what they need, via an intuitive user journey; whether they’re seeking big-picture insights, practical tips, or want to dive into the nitty gritty of the data.

Q. What’s the wider vision for the Hub, FarmFit and its stakeholders?

KafuiI’d like to see it become more open to the contributions of other organisations in the sector. Data from other organizations can complement and interact with the data we have; the more we can collaborate, the easier it will be to help empower companies and investors to establish profitable and mutually beneficial relationships with smallholder farmers.

Q. We want to be amongst the first to use the Hub. So how do we stay up to date?

The FarmFit Insights Hub is now live – visit here.

For regular updates on the Hub’s progress, and to be one of the first to enjoy its insights, sign up to our monthly newsletter here and connect with us on LinkedIn.