Finding talented managers is a critical challenge for entrepreneurs everywhere, but it is especially difficult in emerging markets. To help overcome this hurdle, ANDE partnered with the Argidius Foundation in 2016 to launch a talent challenge supporting pilot programs that addressed this critical gap. As a result, five ANDE members were each awarded 200,000 euros over three years to pilot solutions focused on talent acquisition, development and retention.
With the challenge nearing completion, grantees have made strides for the sector by testing models to more effectively train mid-level managers, connect talented professionals with hiring companies, provide diagnostic tools and resources for SGBs to manage talent development, and other approaches to bridging the talent gap. Through the process of testing these models, grantees have reported back some core lessons learned:
Everyone says, “people are our greatest asset,” but not everyone acts that way. Many companies don’t treat talent and recruiting as the strategic imperative that it is. Valuing “who” is more important than the “what” for almost all businesses, particularly SGBs.
Culture is set at the top and doesn’t always trickle down. SGB leadership needs to invest in formalizing culture (e.g., implementing appraisals, feedback, mentorship) so what they are saying translates into the behaviors that will drive performance.
Everyone needs soft skills (even though soft skills are hard). Too many SGBs and intermediaries think their biggest challenges are around technical, functional or ‘hard’ skills, when research and experience suggest that the less tangible skills?—?such as people management, communication, and personal effectiveness?—?often cause the biggest problems.
The demand for Central American cocoa has been on the rise since 2016, as consumer demand grew for chocolate made from high quality and sustainably farmed cocoa with more refined flavor. However, a divided sector made up of individual farms without knowledge sharing or cooperation can result in both missed opportunities and diminished market prices. Nelson Lara, president of the Honduran Cacao Farmers’ Association APROSACAHO, argues that “unification is the key to obtain better prices.”
To address this, ANDE members Rikolto and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation have facilitated the creation of a Regional Cocoa Platform in Central America. The initiative partners with several other ANDE members active in the sector and region, such as Heifer International and Lutheran World Relief. The platform brings together government representatives, private companies, farmers, researchers, and NGOs from Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to create a vision and strategy for the sector in the region, with the ultimate goal of a more competitive and resilient Central American cocoa sector and a more favorable policy environment. In terms of direct benefits to cocoa farmers, the platform will lead to increased knowledge and income for up to 5,000 cocoa farmers across the region. Indirectly, all cocoa cooperatives in Central America should benefit from changes in the policy environment.
Impact investors seek to take advantage of a market opportunity through companies that embody the values that the investor wishes to foster. This might sound complicated, but all it takes is the right stakeholders, and a little bit of shea butter.
“I’m delighted to be working with Palladium Impact Investments who are keen to support the growth of my work with rural women in Northern Ghana”
— Naa-Sakle Akuete
ANDE member Palladium recently invested in Naasakle, a majority female-owned company that manufactures shea butter in Ghana for the cosmetics industry. The shea butter industry has been rapidly expanding due an increased demand to use more natural ingredients in every day products.
Naasakle works with female cooperatives in Ghana, compensating them at least 20% more than the Ghanaian minimum wage and significantly more than they would make working through middlemen in the trade industry. In addition to offering women better economic opportunities, Naasakle provides technical and financial literacy training and organizes savings programs. The investment from Palladium allows the company to grow by financing production improvements, equipment purchases and working capital funding. This investment also bridges the gap between rural female nut pickers in northern Ghana and global shea butter demand and generates returns on a very impactful investment.
In 2018, ANDE launched the Gender Lens Impact Measurement (GLIM) fund with the aim of enhancing the rigor and quality of impact measurement practices in the sector for SGBs to better manage their impact as it relates to gender inclusion. This fund supports the development of innovative strategies and tools for incorporating a gender lens into impact measurement through researcher-practitioner partnerships. In early 2019, six winners were selected:
- NESsT will create a gender lens investment strategy that it plans to apply to its own fund and that can be adopted by SGBs and the investment community.
- Root Capital and Value for Women will build and use impact measurement tools to assess the impact of small businesses-based interventions to improve the climate resilience of women coffee farmers in Central America.
- Impact Hub and INCAE will develop an opensource toolkit including best practices, tools, and metrics for how SGB accelerators can intentionally apply a gender lens to their programs and measurement systems.
- Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo and Practical Action Bolivia will create tools to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the impact of gender inclusive approaches on economic development projects.
- MEDA and Agora Partnerships will pilot the Gender Equality Mainstreaming in Impact Measurement (GEMIM) tool, a new gender-inclusive impact measurement methodology for SGBs in the Central American agriculture sector.
- The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan and Gente del Futuro will collect empowerment data from women working with GDF in Colombia to examine how empowerment differs based on women’s role in the coffee value chain to understand and better engage women in the sector.