Bridging the financing gap in agriculture value chains




Photo by Ida Horner : Ruhanga SW Uganda

This was the topic for discussion this week over at Business Fights Poverty following an event hosted at Citi Bank in London on Monday 11 Feb 2013.

What was interesting for me is the discussions on development are changing in the sense that development folk appreciate that issues of development cannot be addressed in isolation.

In particular Dougie Brew from Unilever acknowledged the fact that Unilever is best at Business and will not be drawn into providing social services as someone else is best placed to provide these. I didn’t take this to mean that Unilever do not care about the welfare of the communities within which they work, instead that Unilever recognises the fact that their skills set isn’t best placed to deliver social services. 

The key message during the evening was that, the picture in the field is more of a mosaic where various entities, individuals, governments etc come together to bring about results that impact development. In my view this is  an important development,  we need focus our efforts and resources on collaborative or multilateral working for greater impact.

Back to the question of financing for smallholder farmers, one of the biggest huddles they face is landownership, or rather the failure to prove that they own the land they farm. This in turn means that they have no security  as the land can be ceased, in turn they cannot use the land as collateral to asking cheap funding at the banks. The banks in turn cannot take risks upon farmers. I met one such farmer in Masindi NW Uganda and in this post he told me about the reality of their situation

Other challenges faced by smallholder farmers are to do with climate change, fires due to very hot weather and mudslides due to heavy rains have become common occurrences, Smallholder are hardly equipped to deal with such events.


The message from the meeting was clear, money is important to enable farmers to scale their enterprises but it isn’t the be all!

The issues that face smallholder farmers looking to join value chains are complex and need all of our collective efforts, skills and resources.

We will continue this conversation in Kampala on 2/3/13 join us there if you can



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Textile expert required in Tanzania


The  OxfordHR is helping the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, an independent private foundation, to find an Executive Director, Textile Development Unit  based in Dar Es Salam Tanzania


The Position

This is a specialist role for a senior Textile expert to establish a Textile Development Unit within the Tanzanian Ministry of Industry as a professional task force to stimulate the textile industry. It requires substantial work experience and knowledge of both textile and garment technologies and markets. The successful candidate will have a strong track record in international project management, preferably with some experience in Africa, and excellent interpersonal, analytical and communication skills.

Do you know anyone who might fit the bill and would like to spend a year or two in Tanzania? Gatsby have an excellent remuneration package.

There is also an opening for a Cotton Programme Manager, which does not require a textile background. The closing date for receipt of applications is Sunday 22nd April 2012.

If you are interested in either those positions  Full details can be found on

or Contact

Karen Twining
Senior Consultant
Oxford HR Consultants Ltd
The Old Music Hall, 106-108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JE

Fashion fights poverty part 2


In the part 1 of Fashion fights poverty I told you about a young woman I met on my way out and true to her word she sent her question to me by email and here is what she had to say


Dear Ida,

Firstly, it was a pleasure to hear you speak last week at the Africa Fashion Guide event, particularly on poverty alleviation and the women you work with through ethnic supplies. It was also great to meet you briefly at the end of the evening. You may remember, I came and asked you a long-winded question, I said I would email you with it so you could respond if you got a moment! So here it is again..

I understand how important it is for women in Africa to make clothes, be tailors etc, having worked with different NGOs and women’s groups, I have seen how empowering being a skilled tailor is in Togo – But if the fashion industry insentivises this, providing greater demand and income for women, is it not also at risk of reducing the emphasis on women’s education which really is what can change women’s positions in society, enabling them to reach positions of greater influence and increase their opportunities and choices?

I have thought on this some more since I posed the question to you, and wonder if there are ways of incorporating education in to ethical fashion projects which give women business at the same time. Maybe you know of some. Personally, I am still a believer in the state providing good education, but perhaps it is too late for that in lots of African countries.

Yes, that is a long question and I will do my best to unpack it here and hopefully you the readers can join in.


My initial thoughts are that this young lady has concerns that women maybe excluded from education and confined to being tailors and that whilst that provides an income women ought to access education so that they can take up their full roles in society.

I agree that that women should have access to education and I believe that the single most reason why African women are poor is the lack of education and that is why I am involved in an education initiative in SW Uganda. But I am also a realist- some women will not access education for whatever reason.

When that happens initiatives that provide skills that enable women to become financially independent are the next best thing and such initiative see women as tailors or designers of fashion accessories and handicrafts.

In my mind the worst situation for an African Woman is to find themselves without an independent source of income nor an education as this equates to social, political and financial exclusion which are key elements of an individual being able to participate fully or have any influence  in society  for that matter and is what I mean when I use the word empowerment.

I have met many such women and in fact I work with some of them and I can tell you the reality of their lives can be challenging

So over to you folk- what are thoughts?

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