Photo: Hand in Hand. A Hand in Hand Eastern Africa member, farmer Alice Maina from Kenya, in her green house.
Harnessing Value Chains: Hand in Hand’s Experience
We see more companies recognising that they can make a contribution to wider economic, environmental and social progress and starting to adapt the way they do business. That is great, and is essential. But it is not enough. We have also to unlock the potential of poorer people, particularly women, to seize these opportunities.
Hand in Hand’s starting point is bottom up, focussing on our beneficiaries. We have an integrated model: training them how to run and sustain a business, providing bridging loans or access to finance, then identifying market linkages. We are successful in creating jobs and building enterprises. Most are family based or small, but are critical for diversifying income and improved livelihoods.
Developing the value chain is fundamental:
To identify and grow new markets in the informal economy – such as providing chicken to local fast food outlets in Lesotho;
Success depends on development of the basic skills needed to take advantage of new market opportunities, integration into wider livelihood strategies, and sustained support. Economic and social development cannot be merely an add on for business, it must generate new ways of working, new partnerships.
In January this year, Hand in Hand had helped 8,117 members in east Africa with market linkages. Even though most of them occur on the small scale they have all helped members generate income and in turn alleviate poverty. For us, key challenges in moving to scale and deepening impact are: