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Promoting Inclusive Markets and Financial Systems

TechnoServe's East Africa Coffee Initiative: An Example of System Leadership in Practice

TechnoServe's East Africa Coffee Initiative: An Example of System Leadership in Practice

Summary

TechnoServe’s East Africa Coffee Initiative was established in 2008 to support transformation in the region's coffee sector. From 2008 to 2016 it helped nearly 268,000 East African smallholder farmers to transition from being commodity producers to integral parts of the high-value specialty coffee value chain, thereby increasing their coffee incomes by 27%.

This was no simple matter of training farmers and sharing their contact details. East African smallholder coffee farmers and their cooperative groups face low productivity, low quality, lack of access to finance, and limited linkages to specialty roasters. These challenges are complex and systemic, rooted in the actions and interactions of diverse yet interconnected, interdependent stakeholders: the farmers and their cooperatives, private traders, wet mills, exporters, roasters, input providers, financial institutions, and various levels of government. Such challenges cannot be addressed in a top-down, pre-planned, linear fashion. Instead, they require stakeholders to learn and to change the way they operate. Over time, they must develop and adopt new agricultural techniques, management practices, technologies, business models, public service delivery models, policy and regulatory innovations, and cultural norms that together deliver new results.


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