TechnoServe coffee farmers and trainer and client in Nicaragua

TechnoServe’s Top 5 Stories of 2020

In a year filled with challenges, TechnoServe has remained committed to helping farmers and small businesses fight the impact of COVID-19. While some of our methods may have looked a bit different this year, our mission has remained the same. Our five most-read stories from 2020 illustrate just a few of the ways that TechnoServe has helped women and men in the developing world overcome obstacles to build brighter futures.

TechnoServe’s Top Stories of 2019

A photo of Rosa Gonzales with another TNS trainer from from TechnoServe’s Smallholder Market Access Program , standing in a densely forested area by coffee and banana trees placing a sign on a tree written in Spanish that says “Programa de acceso a Mercados para pequeños productores de Centroamérica. English translation: “Market access program for small producers in Central America.”The woman on the right is wearing a tan jacket and pants with her hair in a ponytail, while the woman on the right is wearing a red checkered shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap. Both women are wearing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have their hair tied back in a ponytail.

It’s no understatement to say that 2020 has been a difficult and unprecedented year. And for farmers and entrepreneurs in the developing world, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated existing challenges such as widespread poverty and unemployment.

TechnoServe’s Top Stories of 2020

This year, TechnoServe worked with thousands of small-scale farmers and entrepreneurs to overcome immense challenges, find creative solutions, and build lasting change for themselves and their families. Here are five of TechnoServe’s top stories, which feature the inspiring women and men that you connected with most this year.

TechnoServe's top stories # 5 header image: featuring a group of women participating in a TechnoServe training session in India. On the right of the photo is a white background overlaid with text in teal font.

TechnoServe’s Top Stories, #5: How Farmers in India are Responding to Challenges

In a country of 1.3 billion people, physical distancing can be nearly impossible. Such is the case in India, where the COVID-19 crisis left millions of daily wage laborers without work. This drastic increase in unemployment fueled a mass migration of people moving from urban to rural areas. 

In this article, we talked to TechnoServe’s India country director Punit Gupta to learn how the virus impacted rural communities. Read the blog in full to learn how TechnoServe helped farmers continue to earn a living during the pandemic.

Header graphic for the TechnoServe's top stories #4 , featuring a photograph of two micro-retailers in Kenya standing in their family-owned small business.

TechnoServe’s Top Stories, #4: 4 Key Skills Every Small Shop Owner Needs

Small retailers around the world are vital to local economies. Small business owners from this sector are responsible for $11 trillion worth of goods annually in developing countries. 

Many of these micro-retailers, however, struggle to run profitable businesses. Not all of them have access to the information and skills required to operate a profitable small-scale shop. 

Upon examining several years worth of research and results from TechnoServe’s micro-retail programs, we observed the following four skills every retailer needs: 

  1. Recordkeeping and Financial Management
  2. Inventory Management
  3. Merchandising
  4. Customer Service and Promotion

Across different geographic areas and sectors, the findings of our research indicate distinct skills all shopkeepers need to be successful.

Using this information, we developed a roadmap that lays out four capabilities that shop owners need to transform their businesses and the developing world.

Idalia Medina runs a shop in Managua, Nicaragua

TechnoServe’s Top Stories, #3: How to Support Entrepreneurs in the Time of Coronavirus

As COVID-19 has spread around the world, it has had a devastating economic impact. 

To highlight just a few, consider the list of complicating factors below:

  • Social distancing, quarantines, and other measures led to falling demand 
  • Mandatory store closings led to reduced sales 
  • Labor shortages made it harder to stay in operation 
  • Disruptions to the supply chain made it harder for shopkeepers to access products

With limited savings and access to financing, micro- and small businesses are often the most vulnerable firms in these situations. 

TechnoServe’s work developing capacity and building ecosystems to support entrepreneurs in countries across Latin America, Africa, and South Asia yields essential lessons for today’s businesses struggling to withstand the crisis.

A coffee farmer in Ethiopia tends to his field

TechnoServe’s Top Stories, #2: How Coffee Farmers are Responding to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted every aspect of the coffee supply chain in some way — from the smallholder coffee farmer to the exporter, the roaster, and the consumer. 

As stay-at-home orders became more widespread, many people transitioned from drinking coffee at work or at a cafe to drinking coffee only in their homes. 

These changes in demand had ripple effects throughout the whole supply chain. We talked to Paul Stewart, TechnoServe’s global coffee director, to find out how the pandemic has impacted the coffee supply chain and what TechnoServe is doing to help.

Decorative image for the fifth most-read blog of the year. left half: a photograph of a women wearing a yellow dress. featuring a photo of a couple proudly smiling together, taken at their family-owned small business. On the right of the photo is a white background overlaid with text in teal font that reads “TechnoServe’s Top 5 Stories of 2020”

TechnoServe’s Top Stories, #1: 5 Ways Technology is Fighting Global Poverty

TechnoServe integrates technology into many of our programs to reach more people and scale our impact around the world. The right technology, deployed the right way, can be one of the world’s most powerful weapons against poverty.

From remote sensing and precision agriculture, to e-learning platforms and applications for improving supply chain visibility, TechnoServe uses technology in a variety of ways to reduce poverty around the world. In this post, we shared five things you might not know about how technology is fighting global poverty. 

Read more stories from TechnoServe’s work in Africa, India, and Latin America.