Harvard Kennedy School Report Finds Cross-Sector Partnership an Effective Catalyst for Business Opportunity and Development Impact

The Coca-Cola Company, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe Create Sustainable, Replicable Development Partnership Model

CAMBRIDGE, MA. — A new report prepared by the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School examines how Project Nurture, an $11.5 million partnership among The Coca-Cola Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the international non-profit organization TechnoServe, demonstrates the potential for building sustainable and inclusive value chains through cross-sector partnership.  

The report, Project Nurture: Partnering for Business Opportunity and Development Impact, explores the partnership’s work to double the fruit incomes of more than 50,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda by 2014 by building inclusive mango and passion fruit value chains.

Project Nurture is designed to strengthen local mango and passion fruit value chains in an integrated manner, using a combination of business and philanthropy. The Coca-Cola Company has invested in product development, marketing, supplier relationships, and procurement systems to launch Minute Maid Mango, the first beverage developed to use juice made with participating farmers’ fruit. Additional business investment from the Company and philanthropic funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation covers the cost of farmer capacity development, which is provided by TechnoServe. TechnoServe works to strengthen farmers’ agricultural and business skills and helps them organize into business groups to access inputs and finance, facilitate transactions with buyers, and improve their bargaining power.

A complex array of additional partners are involved in Project Nurture, including banks, agricultural research institutes, fruit processors and exporters, and government ministries. The report notes that by building the incentives and capabilities of these players, The Coca-Cola Company, the Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe are catalyzing a value chain and broader enabling environment that will create value even after Project Nurture concludes in 2014.

The report, authored by CSRI fellows Beth Jenkins and Lorin Fries, highlights a number of key results to date. So far, more than 42,000 farmers, about 30 percent of them women, have participated in the program.  Participating farmers have seen their fruit-related incomes more than double.  Kenyan fruit processors now supply 100 percent of the mango puree for Minute Maid Mango in Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Minute Maid Mango is profitable for The Coca-Cola Company, which plans to implement key elements of the Project Nurture model to expand and diversify its sources of juice in other markets. TechnoServe also plans to replicate key elements of the model in future cross-sector partnerships.

The report concludes that these outcomes suggest that the partnership model is well-suited to contributing to inextricably linked business and development goals, and offers recommendations based on lessons learned from Project Nurture. Among these, successful partnerships should design efficient, effective operating and governance structures; deliberately put strategies and systems in place to bring successful pilots to scale; develop a deeper understanding of the core business contribution to cross-sector partnership; and engage governments in the design and early implementation stages.

“Now more than ever, collective action is the most effective way to address systemic development challenges, such as the exclusion of smallholder farmers from the global value chain.” said CSRI Director Jane Nelson. “Project Nurture’s successes to date show how a cross-sector development partnership can achieve greater efficiency, increase legitimacy, and improve the leverage, scale and impact of development efforts.”

About the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

The Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative (CSRI) at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG) is a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder program that seeks to study and enhance the public contributions of private enterprise. The initiative explores the intersection of corporate responsibility, corporate governance, and public policy, with a focus on analyzing institutional innovations that enhance governance and accountability and help to achieve key international development goals. It bridges theory and practice, builds leadership skills, and supports constructive dialogue and collaboration among business, government, civil society and academics. Founded in 2004, CSRI works with a small Corporate Leadership Group consisting of global companies that are leaders in the fields of corporate responsibility, sustainability or creating shared value. CSRI also works with other leading CSR and sustainability organizations, government bodies, non-governmental organizations and companies to leverage innovative policy research and examples of good practice in this field.