Understanding the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of BDS for agricultural SMEs in Africa
Business development services (BDS) are integral in supporting agricultural small and medium enterprises to grow and thrive, but the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of such programmes remain poorly understood. Small Foundation is delighted to share research findings to further understanding of the economics behind BDS provision to the agricultural sector in sub-Saharan Africa.
This research was a collaboration by AGRA, Agriterra, AMEA, Argidius Foundation, ISF Advisors, SAFIN and Small Foundation. The BDS providers were selected as representative case studies across different contexts and sourced through partners of the collaboration. Participants included: AB-Intel Limited, Agribusiness Development Centre, Agriterra, AgriVision Sahel, Balloon Ventures, CEED Global, Deloitte, IFC, Kilimo Trust, Nuru, Palladium, Somo, Tradeline Consult, Technoserve and Urbanet Ghana.
The report shares findings on cost-efficiency drivers of BDS, the importance of enterprise fee coverage, and the value of increased support to local providers. Other key conclusions include insights on BDS segmentation approaches and reflections on recurrent barriers and challenges. Overall, the study found that BDS provided to agri-SMEs are effective and efficient at generating outcomes for revenue, employment, and capital raised.
To launch the report, SAFIN and ISF Advisors co-hosted a webinar on the 5th April, 2023 featuring:
- Gerard Wynne, Investment Executive at Small Foundation
- Hileena Eshetu, Ethiopia Regional Network Facilitator at AMEA
- Hayden Aldredge, Manager at ISF Advisors
- Matthew Newman, Senior Associate at ISF Advisors
- Michael von During, Technical Specialist at SAFIN (hosted by IFAD)
Along with key insights and recommendations, webinar topics included an overview of the research process, service-user and donor perspectives, and an audience Q&A. Watch below or access the recording here.
We look forward to further engagement around this research to build on it and apply learnings across the ecosystem. We are grateful to the researchers and BDS providers for their work and participation, and encourage readers to take a look at the full report.