Cocoa farmers holding dried cocoa beans in Ghana

Corporate Sustainability

As business investment continues to outpace foreign aid in many developing countries, engaging smallholder farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs with corporate supply chains in a profitable, equitable way is critical to reducing poverty. Sustainable sourcing and strong community relationships are increasingly recognized as key drivers of corporate success, and are no longer optional for companies seeking to do good business in the developing world. Aligning the interests of these companies with those of local people working to escape poverty creates self-sustaining relationships that deliver lasting value both for the companies and for the enterprising women and men they work with.

Our Work in Corporate Sustainability

TechnoServe’s focus on scale and sustainability has led to us work intensively with multinational corporations, some of whom have supply chains that can reach millions of individuals. Despite a commitment to sustainable sourcing, many companies struggle to implement these programs in practice, faced with challenging realities on the ground.

TechnoServe works with these companies to design inclusive business models that drive benefits for the company as well as for suppliers, local businesses, and emerging market customers. While we strive to be innovative, we ground our ideas in the needs and realities of the communities in which we operate and in the technical expertise we have developed in more than 50 years of this work. 

Most critically, we then work with these partners on the ground to turn these new business approaches into a reality. As a result, depending on the program, farmers are able to access higher- value and more secure markets and be more resilient to climate risks; local enterprises are able to secure larger contracts; and micro-retail shops are able to get support and finance from the companies whose products they sell. TechnoServe then replicates the most successful models across geographies, developing ways to drive even more impact for their business and the small-scale producers they work with.

These new business models cannot happen in isolation from the broader community context–and partnerships are key to making it work. TechnoServe engages local and national government to ensure these new approaches align with government priorities. We identify and work with local finance institutions to ensure farmers and entrepreneurs are able to invest and grow their businesses. Finally, we strengthen local organizations to ensure that new business models reinforce local community structures and do not replace them.

Who Benefits

Smallholder farmers

TechnoServe trains smallholder farmers in best agronomic practices that improve the quality and quantity of their crops, as well as connecting them to better buyers like food and beverage companies. This gives farmers reliable markets and higher prices for their crops, improving their incomes for the long term.

Local businesses

Small enterprises connected to the supply chain of larger companies gain stable, well-paying customers and opportunities for greater revenue and growth.

Consumers

TechnoServe’s work with smallholder farmers enables consumers throughout the world to enjoy access to higher-quality foods and beverages produced in a more sustainable, equitable way. 

International companies

Corporations that invest in working with smallholder farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs can improve the overall sustainability of their supply chains in developing countries, reducing risk, costs, and environmental impact. In addition, as consumers increasingly demand and monitor corporate sustainability practices, companies that have taken meaningful action on this front are being rewarded by the marketplace.

From the Farm to Your Cup

TechnoServe Ethiopia Country Director Mefthe Tadesse explains how both smallholder coffee farmers and corporate buyer Nespresso benefit from a sustainable supply chain.