Course Details - Rural Entrepeneurship

Rural entrepreneurship & trust building

Trust among actors in agri-food chains is often not very high. This is caused by the low number of transactions between actors of agri-food value chains, the long distance between producer and end markets, and the general lack of understanding and, therefore, appreciation of each other’s roles. In these situations, all chain actors first of all try to protect their own interests as much as possible. As a result, opportunistic behaviour among chain actors is rampant, and cooperation virtually non-existent. The costs of marketing in these types of fresh produce chains are extremely high, resulting in a combination of very high price levels and very low margins at almost all levels of the chain.

Trust among value chain actors

Addressing protectionist behaviour in local fresh produce value chains is a must. If things are left to their own, all kinds of undesirable situations continue or worsen, like high incidence of poverty, food insecurity, unemployment, rural–urban migration, etc. Conventional interventions are no option either because these tend to focus on particular target groups or chain functions, and, hence, most often result in lower instead of higher levels of trust among value chain actors.

Increasing your capabilities

Stakeholders shaping the environment in which private sector driven innovations in agri-food value chains can take shape that improve food & nutrition security, will increase their knowledge, improve their skills and enlarge their toolkit in this field by following this highly interactive course. In particular, participants will have increased their capabilities by:

  • being exposed to and having practiced with new conceptual frameworks and models that assist in identifying market development opportunities for poverty alleviation and inclusion of small-holders, rural dwellers and small entrepreneurs;
  • being alerted and sensitized to imbalances and imperfections within value chains at large and those of locally traded produce in particular, as well as on how these issues can be addressed;
  • having practiced with participatory approaches and methodologies, tools and instruments for analysis, and a strategic action planning process that initiate innovative and positive change.
  • having been introduced to a business planning model, that integrates the critical variables of cost-price calculation in a sound way.

Participants’ cases are the starting point from which the course departs. It builds on the participants’ own experiences and situations. A selection of these cases will be further analysed in the first week of the course.

Learning how to reduce transaction costs

Reducing transaction costs in local fresh food chains is the focus of the course. To be able to unlock the potential value of locally traded & processed fresh food products, transaction costs will have to be reduced first. Else, small and medium entrepreneurs will not be able to invest, add value and create employment. In this context, market and chain concepts, dynamics and institutions will have to be understood first. Hence, the course kicks off with an introduction to the relevant concepts of market engagement, access and governance and its impact on smallholders, entrepreneurs and resource-poor consumers.

Chain Wide Learning methodology

Chain-wide learning is a participatory tool used to improve the performance of fresh food value chains. It will be practiced with in the course. The Chain Wide Learning (CWL) methodology consists of 3 components:

  1. A multi-stakeholder workshop of representatives of locally, daily traded and/or processed fresh produce value chains will gather to share and discuss the structure, issues and opportunities of a particular value chain;
  2. A strategic action planning process in which the outputs of the workshop are used as inputs;
  3. A set of action plans to reduce transaction costs and/or exploit opportunities in the selected Agri-food value chain.

Once implemented, the plan of actions will built the trust and reduce protectionism and opportunistic behaviour in the selected value chain. As a result, marketing costs and prices at end-markets will come done, chain integral margins go up, while investments productive assets will increase. The improved performance forms the basis for private sector driven innovation in the chain.

Agribusiness development approaches

Agribusiness development approaches is another important subject that will be addressed in the course program. To sensitize the participants to business rationale and attitude, they will practice with a simple, single product focused business planning tool in a step-by-step and hands-on manner. With the help of this tool and process, all the principal variables that relate to cost-pricing will be discussed one by one, while their interconnectedness is shown. The business planning model can be used to assess different scenarios while it can easily be extended to one or more products.

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