iDE and innocent foundation: Creating successful NGO-Business Partnerships

By Sam Harvey, iDE UK

iDE and innocent foundation: Creating Successful Partnerships

Since 2006 non-profit organisation iDE UK and the innocent foundation have achieved a major impact in some of the world’s poorest communities in Africa and Asia. They have found new, innovative ways to create shared value that can offer insights into creating successful partnerships between NGOs and the business world.

Creating shared value starts with shared values. iDE and the innocent foundation have a joint belief in investment in projects with long term, sustainable aims which focus on an entrepreneurial approach to small farm agriculture.

With the support of the innocent foundation iDE has delivered projects in Ethiopia and Vietnam to build sustainable and scalable business enterprises serving smallholder farmers with products and services to increase their incomes.

Apples do nicely in Ethiopia

Between 2006 and 2009 iDE UK and innocent helped set up over 250 apple farms in Ethiopia – providing small family run farms with additional income, improving their livelihoods and making apples readily available for all. iDE UK provided access to low cost irrigation systems to farmers, set them up with robust seedlings and trained them in apple husbandry (looking after the trees, growing the best fruit and so on).

This project proved what iDE already knew – that poor Ethiopian smallholder farmers can use innovative irrigation technologies to grow high value crops and earn a good living. In Addis the price fetched for apples is incredible – as apples are often hard to come by in Ethiopia – the dry conditions and limited water supply mean that not many people grow them. As a result of this success iDE has expanded to their work to support over 60,000 farming households (360,000 people) today.

Fertiliser Revolution in Vietnam

In 2010 the organisations teamed up once again for a three year project aiming to introduce four thousand poor Vietnamese farmers to a new type of fertiliser technology, known as Fertiliser Deep Placement (FDP).

FDP is a simple yet innovative technology – a small pellet containing high quality, nutritious fertiliser which can be placed by farmers deep into the soil of the rice paddies, along seeds. This ensures all the nutrients and goodness from the fertiliser goes straight into the roots of the plant, with none being wasted in the surrounding soil.

Three years later and the project has introduced 4,157 poor farmers to FDP, leading to a 25% improvement in rice yields as well as an average £42 income increase per crop for each farmer.

What has made the partnership a success?

The success of these projects is not only underpinned by iDE’s 30 year‘s of experience of market-based solutions to poverty but by an innovative partnership relationship which extends beyond financial support. For example:

  • innocent have bought their expertise and skills to help the projects including using employees’ professional skills to help iDE’s clients. For instance Emilie from innocent spent a fortnight in Ethiopia helping to develop a professional marketing strategy.
  • innocent have been using social media channels to raise the profile of iDE and the project, for example by posting pictures, info-graphics and blogs to over 335,000 followers on FB. innocent has been the #1 FMCG social media brand for 3 years in a row, and are the only brand to have placed in the top 10 in all of the three years the ranking has existed.

iDE UK and the innocent foundation have established a solid basis for a lasting partnership which is key to transforming the lives of the rural poor in years to come.

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