Day 7: TechnoServe

Wednesday 3/19/08

Yet another busy and an exciting day! Morning started with Alex Mkindi, the Deputy Country Director of TechnoServe in Tanzania who traveled for 13 hours just to meet with us. Alex discussed TechnoServe and its role in private sector development in Tanzania.

TechnoServe is an NGO based in Washington DC that has 39 years of experience in Latin America and Africa. They help entrepreneurs to realize their business ideas and create better communities. They recently received a $46.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as a grant from

Their philosophy is: “Private enterprise can drive economic growth and positive social change. A hand up is better than a hand out.”

TechnoServe applied tailored approaches to three African industries to sustain and grow industry competitiveness:

1. Banana: COLLAPSED: (Kenya) It’s value chain was long and involved several middlemen which was distancing the farmer from the value received farther down the chain

2. Coffee: UPGRADED: (Tanzania) The coffee value chain was compact, resulting in a low-quality commodity product, which was then sold through the auction for lower prices

3. Cashews: RATIONALIZED: (Mozambique) The cashew value chain needed to be “rationalized”, it was a confused value chain under great scrutiny and pressure, with much of the raw product being exported before any value addition

Most farmers gained their skills from their predecessors and new agricultural techniques were rarely applied. Farmers spend most of their income early and don’t safe money for hard times. There is a lack of processing facilities. They don't benefit from the whole crop. For instance they only use cashew nut but the fruit-apple that can produce jams, liquor, or chutneys goes to waste. Or they sell raw cashews to India where processing facilities enable businesses to use shell liquid to produce various end products. But farmers in Tanzania don’t benefit from this additional value. TechnoServe is there to help farmers to address and improve these issues.

TechnoServe works with local governments and helps to change the value chain of these industries as well as educating farmers. They formed farmer’s business schools - educate them on negotiating skills, efficient packing of perishable goods, transporting goods without using middlemen, maintaining the cashew nuts trees or on diversifying new crop (e.g. growing sesame seeds during off-season.) As a result, farmers would get higher income, parents can send their children to schools and communities would improve.

Image: Alex Mkindi during the presentation; Cashew apple and nut (Did you know that cashew trees last for 25 years?)

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