ITL is set on achieving impact at scale. To do that we use a Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD) approach, working across whole market systems to ensure they are sustainable and demand-driven. We act as a facilitator and relationship broker with multiple stakeholders – from farmers to buyers to processors to traders and policymakers.
We support developing enterprises through market analysis, creating plans for technical assistance and forming business plans. This process helps prepare enterprises for accessing and managing loan finance and technical assistance – through ITL’s Incubator Fund, investment through our impact investment platform Access to Capital for Rural Enterprises (ACRE), or outside financing.
ITL has enabled us to explore and develop responses to climate change, so that smallholders are better positioned to face change. In Nicaragua, for example, ITL has funded a climate-resilient supply chain programme. Farmers have been helped to diversity their crops and to shift to more resilient crops in response to the hotter climates.
We use power analysis to understand and identify the opportunities for changing power dynamics in favour of poor and marginalised women and men and to identify where and how exclusion and inequality have developed based on gender.
A viable Hibiscus market in Nicaragua
The Hibiscus Cooperative is now receiving pre-investment technical support through the ACRE programme, including branding support, so that it can present its business plan to external investors and secure finance for its next stage of growth.
Currently the co-operative sells dried petals, juice and wine to 32 Walmart supermarkets in Nicaragua, and supplies hibiscus to a local supermarket chain with approximately 50 stores and to another mini-mart chain that has 12% of the market share. The co-op is also producing hibiscus oil to supply the French cosmetics industry. Oil raises $17 per kilo compared to $4.4 per kilo for dried hibiscus.
Developing the speciality coffee market in Burundi
Coffee exports accounted for around 75% of Burundi’s total income between 1996 and 2000. ITL is supporting improved quality and yields, making cooperatives viable businesses and opening up lucrative internal and external markets. Three international coffee contracts were signed during the year – with Zensho, Green Mountain and Royal.
In this first year of the ITL coffee project, 9,292 women and men smallholder coffee farmers saw a combined increase in production of more than 225%.
In 2015, a women’s coffee brand named ‘Horamama’ was launched. The first container-load was sold in Japan in December 2014. Women now participate in the whole value chain – producing, processing and accessing markets without any middlemen.
ITL seed funding has enabled Christian Aid to pilot cookstoves projects in Ethiopia, Mali, Malawi and Nigeria. The project works with local manufacturers of improved cook stoves (ICS) to expand and improve the production and marketing of stoves and make them more efficient. ICS use 50% less fuel and emit less smoke benefiting communities hugely.
Our climate mapping and future-scenario planning in response to climate change in Central America has helped us to secure additional donor funding worth $2.3 million from the Inter-American Development Bank.
Similarly,the success of ITL’s project in the Middle East, to break down barriers to employment for Palestinian refugee women in Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territory led to a €1.5m grant from the EU to continue the work.
The project has allowed 2,907 women to receive training and enter professions that included accounting, marketing and hairdressing.