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Meeting the Challenges of Value Chain Development: A Learning Event

February 7, 2012 (All day) - February 8, 2012 (All day)
Event page
The Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest
Washington, United States

Links to event resources are available below according to sessions. We will continue to add resources, so we encourage you to check back in the coming weeks.

About the Event

Over the last eight years, USAID and a wide range of partners have generated a wealth of learning about good practices related to the value chain approach and cross-cutting issues that affect it. Meeting the Challenges of Value Chain Development: A Learning Event was held to bring the donor, practitioner and research communities together to disseminate the significant learning that has taken place as well as to generate discussion and share ideas on how to continue the learning going forward. Over the course of two days, participants had the opportunity to learn about innovations and challenges in market system development, access the latest tools and resources, share best practices in management and implementation, and connect with other professionals.

This event was hosted by USAID with funding from the Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project (AMAP) Knowledge and Practice II task order, implemented by ACDI/VOCA and its partners.

Keynote Address (View the Keynote Screencast)

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future, will deliver the address on the importance of agricultural value chain development to lifting people out of poverty and bringing an end to food insecurity. She will speak to the growing appreciation among donors and practitioners of the need to take a systems perspective to agricultural value chain development. This systems view recognizes the importance of enablers of change, including improved access to markets, inputs, and finance, and incentives for change created by an enabling environment, socio-cultural norms and a reasonable return on investment.

Concurrent Electives Group A

Understanding Gender and Culture in Market Systems (Download Session Resources)

Many of the interventions needed to make value chains competitive and to facilitate broad-based growth are rooted in catalyzing behavior and social change in communities and among value chain players.  In addition, changes in market systems can affect socio-cultural practices by shifting control over resources. How can projects understand socio-cultural dynamics, and how can they turn that understanding into activities and approaches that facilitate behavior and social change that leads to increased incomes, well-being and equity? This session will look at the interconnection of social dimensions, including gender, with market systems, and will encourage discussion around how development stakeholders can best respond to these social dimensions.

Engaging the Private Sector (Download Session Resources)

USAID has embraced private sector engagement to leverage private sector investments for development.  How to ensure that these investments have the greatest developmental impact is a key area of interest that this session will explore. Panelists will draw on lessons from USAID’s public-private partnerships, Michael Porter’s creating shared value, and field experiences, as they debate key issues in engaging with the private sector. Participants will engage in discussions around opportunities and challenges in leveraging private sector investments to achieve development objectives. 

Creating an Enabling Environment (Download Session Resources)

The business enabling environment is but part of the larger market system that value chain programs aim to affect. This session will begin with an overview of this system, looking at how the policy environment, social and cultural norms, infrastructure and governance interact with value chains and their service markets. Panelists and participants will explore “hot issues” faced by those engaged in business environment programming and reform such as the effect of de-linking value chain and enabling environment programs, the challenges of public-private dialogue, and achieving private sector involvement in the policy-making process. 

Integrating Food Security and Nutrition (Download Session Resources)

There is a need to better understand the relationship between agricultural value chain development and food security. Agriculture appears to be key for increasing producer incomes, and likely could reduce food prices for consumers. But it is less clear how agricultural value chain development contributes to improved nutritional status. This session will draw on the research community, donors and a panel of development practitioners to address some of the challenges and highlight emerging best practices in using a value chain approach to achieve the food security objectives of availability, access and utilization. Participants will identify complementary programming needed to maximize the impact of value chain development on food security, and will discuss how business interests can be aligned to contribute to this goal.

Concurrent Electives Group B

Financing Value Chains (Download Session Resources)

For value chains to grow and incorporate more of the world’s poor, a diverse range of financing needs must be met. From input credit and working capital, to more sophisticated instruments such as leasing and factoring, we have learned that we can lower the risk of providing these products by building on the close inter-relation of value chain actors and understanding the financing needs and cash flow of the entire household. This session will provide a brief overview of a model of integrated rural and agricultural finance, and examine three recent country-specific “value chain finance” projects (Haiti, Kenya and Honduras) that were built on such an approach. The session will emphasize broad strategies for ensuring that finance contributes to overall value chain competitiveness. Participants will be engaged through an innovations marketplace that will highlight specific “value chain finance” products and services, and explore lessons learned and replication potential.

Reaching the Very Poor (Download Session Resources)

Research suggests that the ‘poorest of the poor’ rarely benefit from value chain development initiatives as a result of constraints that preclude them from participating in markets and attracting the attention of the private sector. Recently, USAID developed a framework and tools, hosted an e-consultation, and commissioned case studies to better understand how value chain development programs, complemented by social and economic strengthening activities, can integrate the very poor into market opportunities. This session will include presentations from practitioners and donors illustrating how the goals of integrating the very poor and stimulating economic growth can be mutually supportive. Participants will discuss the advantages, challenges and means to reach the very poor using a value chain approach and share examples of this in practice.  

Facilitating Sustainable Change (Download Session Resources)

In the field of value chain development, facilitation is accepted as a best practice for achieving sustained benefits beyond the life of a project. However, it presents donors and practitioners with challenges, such as longer time horizons to see change, less predictable results, and different staffing needs. In this session, we will hear a leading expert explain the key factors underpinning facilitation as well as implementers from the Philippines and Uganda share their challenges and successes. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in smaller groups with the presenters and their peers on practical issues of facilitation, and will learn about tools, resources and ways to stay engaged with the learning community on the topic of facilitation.

Learning and Evaluating Within Dynamic Systems (Download Session Resources)

Given the dynamic nature of value chain development activities, integrating learning into the program cycle is critical to achieving results. Because results can require years, impact evaluation is most useful over the longer run to inform best practices going forward. However, integrating learning at the project level requires effective and continuous flows of knowledge throughout the project team, with value chain actors, partners and donors. This session will explore how to integrate learning into programs and projects designed to leverage and transform market systems. Participants will have the opportunity to hear the latest evidence on the impacts of selected value chain projects, discuss how to evaluate these complex programs that have systemic impacts, and identify indicators that can measure the sustainability of systemic change. The session will include updates from USAID’s Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning with respect to the Agency’s plans to strengthen learning throughout the program cycle.

Challenges of Value Chain Development: Final Panel (Watch Panel Highlights)

This closing panel will draw on experts from advisory, practitioner and donor roles to discuss the landscape of market development programs as well as key challenges and priorities going forward. 

Feb 10, 2012   12:29

Hi All,


It was nice meeting some of you - a great community of experts in agriculture, food security, nutrition and the value chain.

While we wait for the resources to be up here, take a look at my quick reflection on the conference in relation to information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the value chain -

Your views and comments are welcomed at the GBI Portal.