Business Case Development training

Sustainability is a growing and important topic in international development. In the field of (agricultural) economic development, many development organizations have started to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs), who are considered to be the motor of the economy. For SMEs to thrive and sustain their operations, however, requires a clear and financially viable business case.

To increase understanding of what makes a good business case, Fair and Sustainable Consulting has developed an online ‘Business Case Development’ training course. In 10 modules of approximately 4 hours each, participants develop a complete plan for a business idea. Each module consists of a 90 minute online group session, with time for discussion. In these sessions, focus is given to adapting the theory to the contexts of the participants. After the group sessions, small groups of participants work on a chapter of the business plan. The final plan includes information on the product/service and its value proposition, clients, competitors, resources, costs and revenues, financial projections and impact monitoring. At the end of the course, participants pitch their business plan in a Dragons’ den, with ‘Dragons’ relevant to their sector/niche. This final stage is an opportunity for participants to reflect on the progress made, and to gain further insight from the ‘Dragons’.

The relevance of this training is highlighted by an organization who recently took the course:

“20 staff members of our network partners stepped in blank, and came out with serious draft business cases; still some way to go, a very intense 10 weeks, but at the end of the day very rewarding”

Are you interested in this training, or one of our related services regarding business planning (e.g. coaching)? We invite you to contact:

Annelien Meerts: annelien.meerts@fairandsustainable.nl; +31624914608

Andre Vording andre.vording@fairandsustainable.nl; +31623024130

The story of a young BSF entrepreneur

In January 2021 Fair & Sustainable consulting has started a pilot Black Soldier Fly farm in Eldoret, Kenya. Everlyne Songoi is the owner of this farm. This blog post describes her story.

Figure 1. Everlyne Songoi

Everlyne Songoi (30) starts her day at 8 in the morning. When she gets to the greenhouse her workers are already there. She assigns them their tasks for the day: collecting eggs, grinding waste, sieve larvae, the whole process.

The larvae of the black soldier fly eat organic waste. They eat fast and can increase their body weight about 15 times in two weeks.

What is left from the organic waste after consumption by the larvae is organic manure. When Everlyne and her workers harvest the larvae they strip the organic manure, which they can sell to small scale farmers in the area. The larvae themselves are sold wet or dry as animal feed.

Insects as a source of protein for animal feed is becoming more and more popular. Insects like BSF contain high levels of protein and fat, plus they are rich in micronutrients, vitamins, and essential amino acids. Besides, their production only leaves a small ecological footprint while also recycling waste, which making them a perfect alternative for unsustainable protein sources.

When Everlyne was growing up, she could not have foreseen that she would become the owner of a black soldier fly farm and spend most of her time rearing larvae and collecting organic waste. Her parents were poor farmers in Kitale. They did not have the money to send Everlyne to college.

“My parents didn’t have enough money to check me into college. So I used to help my mom at the farm. It has been my passion to do farming. But we didn’t have funds. So we had to take loans all the time. (….) (We were) trying to do farming without enough resources, so you can’t grow”

Figure 3. Black soldier flies in nets

Figure 2. Black soldier fly larvae

 

Like so many young people in Kenya, Everlyne is ambitious but she had trouble finding decent employment. She started a small business selling clothes. Unfortunately, due to a lack of money to buy a store and expand, this business failed. Later on, she started a course in accounting. But again, she had to abandon this career after she was no longer able to pay the school fees.

“I would like something to do in farming. That is where I can do best. Because any other thing that I’m thinking of it will be very expensive for me.”

After her mother died and Everlyne moved back to Eldoret. She realized her passion lay with farming, she aspired to start a chicken (kuku) farm. However, on her search on the internet for the best way to manage chickens, Everlyne stumbled on many YouTube videos about BSF farming.

“When I was searching for how people are doing their kuku’s how they’re managing, I came across BSF and this one interested me even more. I can supply food, animal feed, which is cheap for small scale farmers. ( … )So that is where I got my inspiration. And I’m also trying to survive, so I thought this is something I can do.”

Figure 4. Everlyne at ICIPE

With the help of an elderly lady at her church, she came into contact with Mr Wilfried Schasfoort from Fair & Sustainable consulting, who was looking to provide technical support to a BSF farm. From there the process to set up the first Fair & Sustainable Insect Farm began. Fair & Sustainable assisted in developing the business plan, the technical advice, management advice and a loan to start up the business.

“So first I had to find people who were doing it. Because mostly I was being on YouTube, (back then) I couldn’t find anyone in Eldoret who was doing it.  Fair & Sustainable connected me to other BSF farmers and  to ICIPE.”

First, Everlyne visited Roseanne Mwangi in Nairobi, an experienced BSF farm owner, she gave Everlyne her first impression of BSF farming. Afterwards, Fair & Sustainable organized for Everlyne to follow a one-week training with ICIPE (International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology). Here, she learned the ins and outs of BSF farming and she also received a starter kit with the first larvae

“At ICIPE, I was learning the practical aspects of BSF farming. We started with the collection of eggs, then how we make their food, how we prepare the eggs to hatch and we even learned how to sanitize and disinfect the crates so that there is no disease that attacks the larvae. So I really got the experience”.

Figure 5. The greenhouse in Eldoret

Back in Eldoret, after the county permission and papers were organized, the greenhouse was constructed and in January 2021 the first Fair & Sustainable insect farm was born. At the moment, Everlyne has four employees, and as of March, the production of larvae has started. When the colony has grown big enough, in about 5 months, they will start selling.

When asked about the challenges related to BSF farming, Everlyne mostly encounters difficulties with finding organic waste. “Before I started we thought, this will be easy. We thought those people who don’t want organic waste, they will bring it to my farm at their cost. However, that is not the case”.

Instead, Everlyne had to get her own transport and find people who collect organic waste for her. To get access to free organic waste,  Everlyne has placed bags in the local market in which people throw their organic waste.

“ you have to put your bag like everywhere around the market, so people can see it as a dustbin and throw the waste there. Then you come and collect and sort again”

According to Everlyne, BSF farming is a good business. For me, as an entrepreneur, BSF farming has given me the opportunity to employ myself. It has enabled me to cater for my son and me. I’m a single mom, so it was a challenge before and now this is something that is giving me hope.

She also points out that BSF farming can provide new job opportunities for youth and women. All her workers are below 28 years old and out of 4 employees, 2 are women. In the future, Evelyn hopes to expand to 10 employees of which the majority should be women.

“Finding employment is not easy for women in Kenya . So BSF farming provides job opportunities for these women. It is also a good opportunity for single women since they do not need many resources”.

Everlyne has big plans for the future. In 3 years, she aims to have expanded and she hopes the F&S insect farms have grown and created many opportunities for young women and young people.

“I am very grateful to Fair & Sustainable. They have given me the opportunity to create a business for myself and jobs for my staff”.

Figure 6. Everlyne and employees of F&S IS

Figure 7. Everlyne and employees F&S IS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more about the fair and sustainable insect farms contact Wilfried Schasfoort at Wilfried.schasfoort@fairandsustainable.nl

Practical guidance on gender inclusion in the palm oil industry

RSPO aims to make the palm oil sector fair and sustainable, for this purpose the RSPO standard includes gender-related Principles and Criteria (P&C). To assist members in applying these, RSPO has recently published a Gender Guidance developed in cooperation with Fair & Sustainable Consulting.

A day for a female worker in the palm oil industry is extremely busy. Before, the sun rises she will have visited her rubber crops, cooked for her family, bathed and got her children ready for school. Afterwards, she is picked up by the company to take her to work on the oil palm plantations. There she works tirelessly, sometimes without any protective gear, to make her target of the day. Which more often than not she is not able to reach, resulting in an even lower income. In the afternoon, she returns home to work in her rice fields, and perform even more household chores. Of course, she would like to get a more stable job with less irregular income, however, for women in the palm oil industry, there are limited options[1].

Women play an important but unrecognized role in the palm oil industry.  At first glance, the palm oil industry seems to be run by men, as they do the visual and ‘heavy’ work in the plantations and mills. However, women perform many of the maintenance tasks e.g. clearing undergrowth, pruning trees, spreading fertilizer etc. Women also work in tree nurseries and /or are involved in administrative work. These tasks are often overlooked and, as women are not or less represented in worker committees, the specific constraints they face are not discussed or addressed. A similar situation can be found at the level of smallholders in the palm oil sector.

Constraints faced by women in the palm oil value chain include unrecognised landownership and land use, lack of training, lack of equal job opportunities, lack of protection and lack of recognition for work performed. Prasad Viaya Segaran, the  Human Rights and Social Standards Senior Executive of the RSPO calls for the “need to address these risks by integrating more gender-equal views and practices into the operations of palm oil producing companies”. According to him ‘this will contribute both to the wellbeing and livelihood of men, woman and the companies they work for’. Read the press release of the RSPO here.

To reach this goal of enhanced gender equality in the palm oil sector, F&S designed, together with the RSPO human rights working group (HRWG), a practical guidance document for RSPO members.  The manual presents gender-based constraints and describes strategies and actions as building blocks to be(come) a gender-inclusive business. For each strategy, the results for women and business are described, as well as for smallholders and the community. The strategies are also linked to the relevant RSPO P&C to show how the actions support compliance with the standard.

Download the full guide from the RSPO website here. And read the RSPO’s introduction to the guide here.

To find out more about gender inclusion in value chains and the RSPO guidance, please contact:

Angelica Senders (angelica.senders@fairandsustainable.nl) or Marjoleine Motz (marjoleine.motz@fairandsustainable.nl)

 

[1] https://landportal.org/blog-post/2021/02/voices-women-palm-oil

The potential of Moringa and Baie Rose from Madagascar

Interested in superfood Moringa or gourmand food Baie Rose (pink peppercorn) from Madagascar? F&S researched the potential and challenges of production, processing and export of Moringa and Baie Rose in Ambilobe district, Madagascar for GIZ. Too Many Words made two beautiful infographics that capture the main results of the research.

Moringa infographic: English and French

Baie Rose infographic: English and French

Background

This research is part of the framework of the Environmental Management Support Program (PAGE) and in particular the AFAFI-North AF project, implemented by GIZ and jointly funded by BMZ and the European Union. PAGE aims at improving the conditions for the protection and sustainable use of natural resources in Madagascar. The AFAFI-Nord-AF project supports, among others, the development of six natural resource value chains in the DIANA region and in the Ambilobe district. Moringa and Baie rose are two of the value chains to be developed.

More information

Jochem Schneemann: jochem.schneemann@fairandsustainable.nl

Annelien Meerts: annelien.meerts@fairandsustainable.nl

F&S’ adapted services for value chains during COVID-19

Fair & Sustainable Consulting (F&S) offers services on value chain development in adapted format now that many value chain projects and programmes are affected by COVID-19 measures  and our clients have to work differently to achieve the expected  results. F&S helps  in developing and implementing ways to overcome  value chain challenges, posed by COVID-19 restrictions.

Much has changed unexpectedly!

(Agricultural) value chains in Africa and Asia are hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis[1]. Some examples: labour and supply shortages arise, access to affordable inputs becomes complicated, and restrictions on imports and exports may be imposed, while (also local) transport and storage may get more expensive and even disrupted. The export of produce is also affected by changes in trade patterns with major exporting/importing countries. Eventually the prices of food rise due to these disruptions in the agriculture supply chains, reduced imports and the closure of many informal markets.

For producers, processors and traders this creates unexpected and serious new challenges as business models and revenue models are affected. Insight in, and control of these changes is of crucial importance for value chain actors, as the above mentioned developments will force them to adapt their processes, products and pricing.

F&S helps you to manage these changes and risks

As value chain development is one of the key services of F&S, we are able to systematically work through these value chain changes with you, from a distance (due to the fact that we are currently not able to travel) and with national consultants.

In this blog we explain how we will still work with you in researching, (re-)analysing and improving your value or supply chains.

In our Value Chains Selection support we help our clients in making informed choices of which value chains match best with their mission and strategy and fit best in the changed circumstances. In our ‘distance approach’ we operate as follows:

  • We make intensified use of current (fast changing) secondary data from international online databases. For instance on trade and export statistics, price information of commodities, information on demand and trends, but also data on social and environmental and risks. We also use our own database which contains previously collected data, where useful.
  • We equip our national consultants with tools (surveys, topic lists, guides) to collect additional data (also for verification of database data) ‘on the ground’. Depending on in-country travel restrictions, they collect data using online questionnaires, via phone or online (video) conferencing calls, or during visits. F&S guides and coaches the national consultants in this work from distance.

For Value Chain (Re-)Analysis (which goes deeper than the initial value chain selection), we develop actor-specific questionnaires for use by national consultants, live, by phone or online. We hold online video conferences with key stakeholders to discuss issues. The joint team analysis by international and national consultants is also done online.

We start and finalize the selection/(re-)analysis process with meetings, now hosted online. A kick-off meeting is held with the client to get deeper insight into expectations. In the validation workshop at the end, our analysis is triangulated, and more input is obtained from key stakeholders.

For these meetings, we use the video conferencing tool Webex , supported by tools such as Mural or Padlet, both in plenary and breakout sessions. Breakout sessions and participatory tools (e.g. Mural) help us to assure that we get the opinion of all relevant people, present in the workshop. The clients ànd national consultants play a big role in these workshops, as they know the context and important stakeholders best.

In the subsequent Value Chain Development and Implementation support, we use a toolbox for market systems development solutions online. This includes tools for business model adjustment/ development (eg: design of services and inputs, linking value chains to financial services, developing/reviewing partnerships for market access, etc.) All this is done online. For programme implementation (once programmes have started or have been adjusted), we offer use of the KOBO Collect surveys to track progress. We also provide distance support in data analysis to assess progress and we coach on where and how to further adapt strategies, develop new approaches etc.

Interested? Contact André Vording, andre.vording@fairandsustainable.nl, or Annelien Meerts, annelien.meerts@fairandsustainable.nl.


[1] https://www.ifpri.org/blog/how-covid-19-may-disrupt-food-supply-chains-developing-countries
https://includeplatform.net/news/covid-19-in-ethiopia-impacts-on-agri-food-systems-and-key-value-chains/
https://iclg.com/alb/11717-what-impact-will-covid-19-have-on-food-security-in-africa

First open-registration online Gender in Value Chains training

F&S is very happy to announce that our consultants Angelica Senders and Emma Feenstra will be facilitating an online Gender in Value Chains training. Because of COVID-19, we have decided to provide this training as an open-registration training for everyone to join.

For whom?

If you’re struggling with gender issues in your value chain project and you are looking for practical training to learn more about this topic, this might be just the training for you! In 5 weeks, you will learn how to conduct a gender analysis in a value chain relevant for your work, analyze the gender-based constraints, formulate interventions to address them and develop an action plan.

When?

The training will start on 15 June and costs only €895!

You can find more information in our leaflet, or sign up here!