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What determines the success of value chain interventions? SNV and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) have distilled the key elements for success from projects that achieved change with large-scale impact.

Lesson #1: Be quick to make sensible first choices

Start with a quick demarcation: where will you work, with which sector, sub sector or crop, with which target group and what is the wider goal of the intervention?

Lesson #2: Identify opportunities, build on what exists

A value chain intervention is most effective if you can capitalise on existing economic, demograpic or political developments.

Lesson #3: Align with what motivates stakeholders

The most important motivation for behavioural change, which is at the core of any development, is a higher income. Value chain interventions that do not take into account the motivational aspect or the necessity of change, have little chance of succeeding. 

Lesson #4: Be aware of the consequences of an intervention

Map the expected effects, determine what you can do to mitigate the negative effects and ensure a wider positive impact.

Lesson #5: Reflect and respond

With value chain interventions it is not about whether you have executed your original plan, but about whether you have achieved your goal. Constantly think about the need for change: is the goal still valid, does the activity match, what needs to be adjusted? 

Lesson #6: Aim for a large-scale effect from the onset

The conditions placed upon pilot programmes must be realistic. Aim for large-scale impact from the onset to contribute to future, widespread success.

Lesson #7: Combine various activities

Successful value chain development is not simply a chronological process. For lasting results, you need to find a balance between activities with direct impact and activities that influence the system in the long run.

Lesson #8: Find the right partners

Establish alliances from the onset to ensure that organisations with a permanent mandate will continue the work after the temporary intervention. In the pilot phase, a broad coalition makes sense because those who were part of the learning programme will internalise the experience. When you start scaling up, the emphasis shifts to permanent, cost-effective services and production, in a competitive environment.

Lesson #9: Do not expect public interest charity from companies

The most important role for companies is to take market risks and to buy, cultivate and sell agricultural products. Do not expect them to also invest in additional charitable activities.

Lesson #10: An independent party is indispensable

In order to establish a successful intervention, an independent coordinating party is necessary to bring together public, private, local and government parties. NGO's play an important part in assembling and motivating these parties. However they might hinder the formation of commercial services in the sector

Experts

Eelco Baan

Global Technical Advisor - Inclusive Value Chain