Evidence-Based Learning and Adaptation
IESC closely monitors progress against performance indicators on each of our programs, including check-ins at regular intervals to track progress, adapt as needed, and achieve results. We conduct pause-and-reflect and learning sessions—with our staff, funders, the program participants that we serve, partner organizations, and program counterparts—to make changes based on shifting in-country circumstances and donor and national priorities. As part of these efforts, we monitor economic dynamics and market system dynamics to identify and assess risks, and build-in contingencies that ensure the achievement of results.
Kenya, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka
Farmer-to-Farmer Access to Finance (F2F A2F)
Program Overview: F2F, a volunteer-driven program, expands agricultural sector access to financial services and increases agricultural sector productivity and profitability, thereby raising incomes and creating jobs. The core countries for the F2F Access to Finance Program are Kenya, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka.
Relation to IESC Expertise: When COVID-19 halted international travel and caused economic turmoil in Kenya, Tanzania, and Sri Lanka, IESC quickly adapted to ensure results on the F2F A2F Program. Instead of international experts traveling to Sri Lanka, IESC shifted to utilizing local volunteers on the ground partnering virtually with international experts. As credit markets slowed and financial institutions were reluctant to lend to agricultural stakeholders, IESC staff and volunteers worked with borrowers to improve their marketing, and supported lenders to properly assess agricultural returns. These adaptations resulted in an increase of $11 million in sales, and nearly 106,000 agricultural loans valued at $69.3 million.
Market-Oriented Dairy (MOD)
Funder: USDA Food for Progress
Program Overview: MOD supports farmers and other dairy enterprises to meet the demands of the local dairy sector in a commercially sustainable way. The program implements activities to increase the production levels and sales value of milk produced by participating farmers; improves the availability of and access to quality inputs for dairy farming; and improves dairy product safety through adherence to proper feeding regimens, management practices, and technology.
Relation to IESC Expertise: The Sri Lankan economy experienced economic turmoil and hyper-inflation following the COVID-19 pandemic. Credit market interest rates skyrocketed to over 30%, inhibiting farmers from accessing capital to invest. Dairy farmers were reluctant to make cash investments to improve productivity, effectively driving up fresh milk prices, and increasing reliance on imports. Recognizing these challenges, IESC introduced an input voucher program to support small-scale capital investments for improved productivity. To stimulate investment, MOD provided vouchers with 40-75% cost share towards production technologies. As a result, 384 vouchers were redeemed, resulting in a 9% increase in production in just six months.
Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (LinkSME)
Program Overview: LinkSME built the capacity of Vietnamese business support organizations to advance linkages between Vietnamese small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and lead firms, thereby enhancing the capacity of SMEs to participate in global supply chains. Improved and increased business linkages help Vietnamese firms generate jobs, improve livelihoods, and encourage entrepreneurial innovation. Additionally, the program reduced major barriers limiting SME growth across Vietnam and helped to institutionalize key reforms.
Relation to IESC Expertise: On the LinkSME project, IESC learned that there were limited local resources capable of offering the technical support IESC was providing to Vietnamese SMEs to integrate into the supply chains of lead firms. To ensure a sustainable service market in Vietnam, we adapted and began building the capacity of Vietnamese business support organizations (BSOs) to offer market linkage facilitation services. We developed a set of instructional handbooks and trained BSO staff on facilitating linkages, and helped BSOs to mainstream these SME-support interventions as part of their service portfolios.