Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

"Empowering Market Actors" Learning Series: Business Development Services

In Rwanda, 72,000 agricultural small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) present a major opportunity to effect change in the sector and spur broad-based economic growth inclusive of smallholder farmers. Over the past five years, the USAID/Rwanda Private Sector Driven Agricultural Growth project (PSDAG), has explored, developed, and refined its multi-pronged approaches to helping increase smallholder incomes by promoting private sector investment in Rwanda.

The cornerstone of PSDAG’s success in improving local private sector partners’ market viability has been a US$5 million Value Chain Competitiveness Fund (VCCF), through which the project identified SME partners and provided co-investment grants that allow them to invest in technology upgrades and strengthen relationships between themselves, producers, investors, and financial institutions. The VCCF was utilized to reduce risk and accelerate private sector investment; help partners pilot new technologies and business models; support capacity building via knowledge transfer; facilitate increased access to finance in the sector; and enable SMEs and associations to strengthen organizational and advocacy skills. PSDAG has partnered with over 50 SMEs, 92 cooperatives, and four civil society associations to address their investment and advocacy challenges.

Through this five-part Agrilinks Learning Series, we will share some of our key thinking, processes, and lessons learned related to Cooperative Professionalization, Access to Finance, Social Inclusion, Business Development Services, and Public-Private Dialogue. We hope that donors, governments, and partners will find these learnings useful as they design and implement their own efforts moving forward.

Business Development Services

Rwanda’s small- and medium-sized agribusinesses (SMEs) often lack the financial skills, scale, and marketing acumen that would make them attractive to financial institutions or impact investors currently operating in or hoping to invest in the country. To address this, PSDAG has designed a Business Development Service (BDS) program for project-supported SMEs that includes a tailored package of capacity building in financial accounting and reporting, investment readiness and access to finance, sales process and forecasting, human resources, and marketing, all while supporting policies for the inclusion of women, youth, and persons with disabilities. The BDS program was intended to help partner SMEs become more sustainable by assisting them to professionalize, expand, and find new and affordable finance.

PSDAG’s BDS program has been rolled out to 36 agri-SME partners throughout the country.  The attached PSDAG Learning Brief highlights the key takeaways from our May 2019 convening of stakeholders in Kigali, Rwanda, and summarizes PSDAG's approach to BDS provision and BDS service-market strengthening, challenges, and results.

Click the image to read the Learning Brief

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Don't miss our related Agrilinks post -- Professionalizing Ag: Is BDS the Critical Ingredient to Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the Agriculture Sector?