What We've Learned
Lessons from our Projects
TechnoServe’s projects yield a wealth of lessons that can help us – and others – improve our work. Through this interactive platform, we share succinct insights from our projects every year, in order to build on this knowledge for even greater impact in the future.
Select a technical field below to see the lessons we have learned from our work, and click the links to learn more.
A mix of both financial and non-financial support is important for agribusinesses at the early stage of the business life-cycle. While applicants are often drawn to the program by seed capital, the technical assistance they then receive plays a vital role in strengthening their business models.
Complementing bank credit with grant funding encourages banks to lend to smaller businesses than they usually work with, as credit risk is reduced. For borrowers, this blended finance approach defrays the cost of traditional credit and enables access to collateral previously not available.
Since financial institutions are often risk-averse, it can be helpful to pilot new financial products with small numbers of farmers to prove the concept, before scaling up.
It takes time for small and growing businesses to become attractive investments for private equity and commercial funding. The agribusiness supported by this project in Zimbabwe took 24 to 36 months, on average, to commercialize their ideas and begin to demonstrate viable impact.
Access to finance from cooperative societies needs sufficient guarantees to support claims. A guarantee fund could be set up to facilitate the financing requested by the cooperatives involved in the project.
Cocoa cooperatives have difficulty accessing conventional bank financing for several reasons:
- The quality of their accounting and financial management often does not allow them to access other sources of funding.
- The cooperatives are not always informed about the sources of funding available.
- Banks do not develop enough financial products and services adapted to the needs of cooperatives.
Engaging large buyers to provide low-cost credit to farmers and producer organizations in their supply chain can sustainably improve farmer productivity. Cash loans for farm maintenance, credit lines for working capital, and in-kind loans of inputs help farmers improve yields and ensure that buyers receive a stable supply of crops.
A rotating funds initiative, in which a group of entrepreneurs regularly pool small amounts of money in order to provide loans to group members on a rotating basis, can expand access to finance for small shop owners and help to accelerate their business growth.
Training specifically on business financial literacy (even when shopkeepers have experience handling their personal finances) helps shops improve their profitability.