2SCALE: Year Four Narrative Progress Overview

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In 2022 the Russia-Ukraine war-induced high inflation rates and food costs, leading to a major worldwide food crisis, with Africa being the hardest hit. Political instability and insecurity remained challenging in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. The 2SCALE consortium strengthened its security policies and continuously monitored the security situation in all countries so that staff were not exposed to danger. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had less impact on our work in the field, as team members could travel easily. Due to this, our business champions could not invest in both value chain up and down streams, smallholder farmers and the base of pyramid. As program implementors, we had to be adaptive about our PPPs management. In some cases, the inclusive business idea had to be readopted; in other cases, the lead business champion was changed. These changes were made through a careful and well-documented assessment led by the country and program management teams. Additional adaptive measures were taken in response to the post-conflict situations in South Sudan. Despite these challenges, the Program implementation was much more intensive than in previous years. As a result, noteworthy results were achieved. Targets set for 2022 were met for all Universal Impact Indicators (UIIs). Even one of the pilot countries, South Sudan, could register results regarding these indicators. Because of the high prices of essential agricultural inputs, such as fertilizer, business champions could not take out significant loans as expected. Despite the difficulties, most of them remained committed to their business ideas. Others sought new partners to invest in their public-private partnerships (PPPs). It is worth noting that the new reality of doing business has also led to high demand for quality locally processed products. The relationship between the business champions and smallholder farmers was enhanced thanks to the PPP's maturation. As a result, business champions could meet their consumers' demands due to a consistent supply of good quality raw materials in quantity. Most of our business actors observed an increase in their turnover. This reveals how the 2SCALE approach effectively strengthened local agribusiness value chains and actors for sustainable food security in Africa. As the program is getting close to meeting all the targets in terms of Universal impact indicators, the team is encouraged to consolidate the impacts and harvest the stories behind the numbers. The stories will provide insights into the 2SCALE approach's impact on the agribusiness actors we engage with. The collection of these stories will be a major focus in 2023 and 2024 as an integral part of our internal evaluation and the upcoming Impact Assessment Study of the program. The program developed a rich and diversified portfolio of PPPs in different value chains initiated by Business Champions of different sizes. The program considers the PPPs as a means to the end (achieving impacts under the 8 UIIs), and hence having these diversified PPPs will help achieve the different targets as different product groups and sizes of business champions offer different opportunities. For Example, we have learned that PPPs in the animal-based product groups contribute significantly (53%) to the target of improving the BoP consumers' access to food. While the staples are by far the most important product groups for SHFs empowerment and promoting Eco-Efficient production practices. While the analysis of the result (as of the end of 2022)against the size of the business championed revealed that PPPs led by large (in size) business champions are more suitable to contribute to BoP target, non-farm employment creation and MSME empowerment. However, PPPs led by Medium and Small sized Business champions are best suited for empowering SHFs. As an integral part of our activities consolidation and strengthening, 2SCALE seeks synergy with existing national, regional and international initiatives. For this purpose, country teams were encouraged to engage with stakeholders to strengthen and sustain program activities in various countries. Collaboration with CARE was intensified, thanks to the country-focused Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia. A USAID buy-in program was secured to strengthen soil fertility-related activities within 2 SCALE PPPs in Niger. The program also collaborated with institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support business champions with access to finance. In 2023 and 2024, we expect to get more results from these partnerships. 2SCALE reached its 10th anniversary in 2022. This was celebrated with a large event that took place in Nairobi, with a focus on the Anglophone countries. At the same time, six focus countries organized replication events at the national level. To promote the 2SCALE brand, colleagues attended numerous international conferences and events in Europe and Africa related to inclusive agribusiness.This year also registered a few human resources challenges. With the uncertainty of a program extension or award of a new phase, many contracts were terminated at the end of 2022. Some colleagues decided to leave even before that. At the leadership level, the program was managed by Addis Teshome, Deputy Program Director, during the medical and parental leave of Marina Diboma, Program Director. The combination of both roles in one person was quite challenging. Nevertheless, with the support of the Supervisory Board Chair, Henk van Duijn, and the Program Management Team (PMT), program implementation continued without problem. Continuous engagement with our focal person, Jeroen Rijniers, led to the approval of a top-up budget, allowing program work to be consolidated sustainably. On a positive note, the program launched and implemented its very first Global Youth Mentorship Program, which helped empower young colleagues. A second cohort will be launched and implemented in 2023. Given the financial constraints, a full team retreat was impossible, but country team reflection days took place with at least one PMT member participating.
Smallholder farmers, Food security, Resilience