How can we strengthen collaboration in support of micro-enterprises in value chains?

Micro-enterprises are the lifeblood of many communities and a critical source of employment and livelihoods. Larger companies rely on the effective operation and growth of micro-enterprises in their value chains, often as suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers.  However, many micro-enterprises today are struggling just to survive.  Research points to five areas of need (business and technical skills, access to fair and well-functioning markets, access to affordable, appropriate financial services, infrastructure and services and enabling policy and regulatory environment) that limit the ability of micro-enterprises to thrive, of companies to realise the commercial value of their relationship with micro-enterprises, and of the full potential of micro-enterprises’ social impact in communities. 

 

These needs are also highly interconnected and cannot be tackled in siloes, which is why there is growing appreciation amongst stakeholders that interventions that do not address the full range of micro-enterprise needs can reduce the potential for achieving greater sustained impact – both for micro-enterprises and the companies supporting them.   In recognition of this, a new report by SABMiller, CARE International UK, Business Fights Poverty and the Harvard Kennedy School Corporate Responsibility Initiative highlights the need to move towards a more holistic form of collaboration with the aim of strengthening the broader “market system” in which their value chain and micro-enterprises operate. The report also identifies five critical success factors which are essential for designing and implementing market systems approaches.

 

To mark the launch of the new report, Business Fights Poverty is hosting an online discussion to explore the following questions:

 

  • The report highlights five key interconnected needs of micro-enterprises that would enable them to thrive – how do these needs exist for the micro-enterprises you engage with and support? Are some more important to address than others?

 

  • What are some of the limitations of current approaches to supporting micro-enterprises in value chains? How can taking a more “market systems” approach deliver greater commercial and social value?

 

  • What are the key challenges that limit collaboration across companies, governments, civil society organisations and donors? What are examples of effective collaboration and what has made them successful?
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We are looking forward to today’s live online discussion.  Before we get started at 3.00pm UK time / 10.00am EST, we wanted to share some of the key points from the report we are launching today:

Our start point in the report is to emphasise that micro-enterprises are a critical source of employment and livelihoods in communities and many companies rely on the effective operation and growth of micro-enterprises in their value chains, as suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers.

However, many micro-enterprises today are struggling to survive. Our research points to five categories of interconnected needs:

1. Business and technical skills

2. Access to fair and well-functioning markets

3. Access to affordable, appropriate financial services

4. Infrastructure and services

5. Enabling policy and regulatory environment

There is growing recognition that interventions that do not address the full range of micro-enterprise needs can reduce the potential for achieving greater sustained impact – both for micro-enterprises and the companies supporting them.

Therefore, companies and other stakeholders need to move towards a more holistic form of collaboration with the aim of strengthening the broader “market system” in their value chains and micro-enterprises operate.

To support companies in achieving this, our research has identified five critical success factors which are essential for designing and implementing market systems approaches:

  1. Understand micro-enterprise needs to gather insights on what constrains and motivates them
  2. Identify market system roles, capabilities and incentives to determine who should be part of a collaborative approach
  3. Establish the value proposition to outline how addressing micro-enterprise needs can achieve greater commercial value and social impact
  4. Coordinate effectively to ensure all stakeholders are committed and aligned to create value for all
  5. Measure results to demonstrate the impact achieved 

Hello everyone !

Good morning/afternoon!

My name is Autumn Gorman. I work in the Office of Private Capital and Microenterprise in the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment at USAID. 

Hello everyone, first time here. Looking forward to connecting with each and everyone here. 

Welcome to this online discussion – can I ask the panellists to introduce themselves

I’m Elaine McCrimmon, Head of Public Affairs in SABMiller’s European Business. As part of my role, I guide our European businesses on how they can transform ‘Prosper’ our global sustainability strategy into locally relevant sustainable development actions that are linked to core business. This includes leading our retailer development strategy to support very small retailers in our distribution chain to develop and grow their business.

Richard Hi - Gerry Boyle of CARE International, working mainly on women's economic empowerment and a co-authro of the report

Thanks everyone - Let’s kick off with the first question:

Q1. Our new report highlights five key interconnected needs of micro-enterprises that would enable them to thrive – how do these needs exist for the micro-enterprises you engage with and support?  Are some more important to address than others?

Hi all, Jolene Dawson, Global Agriculture Lead from Accenture Development Partnerships

Hi, I am Andrés Peñate, VP of CA for SABMiller´s Latin America. My role is to ensure that our social value proposition, what we call Prosper, is executed in the local operations and embedded in the business in this region. 

 I am Catalina Garcia, Head of Communications and Sustainability of SABMiller Latam. I led the small-scale microentreprises program in 6 countries of Latin America, to support more than 150,000 retailers by 2020 from our value chaing.  Improving livelihoods and their business skills.

  • Many of the micro-enterprises we have worked with feel misunderstood. There seem to be largely due to misunderstandings of deep cultural norms (e.g. some farmers feel spoken at, and cultural norms prevent them from interrupting or correcting the person speaking).

  •  In this context, both the corporates or donor organisations as well as the beneficiaries or micro-enterprises make faux-pas – and things get lost in translation.

  • By focussing on human-centred design, Accenture Development Partnership have made huge in-roads into setting up healthy partnerships between corporates, donors and micro-enterprises in health, agriculture and finance. This concept ensures that the very human beneficiary is front and centre to the design of all elements of the programme or products in question.



Richard Gilbert said:

Thanks everyone - Let’s kick off with the first question:

Q1. Our new report highlights five key interconnected needs of micro-enterprises that would enable them to thrive – how do these needs exist for the micro-enterprises you engage with and support?  Are some more important to address than others?

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