Three internationally acting institutions, the global corporation Unilever, the philanthropic organisation Acumen, and the philanthropic Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, have announced to partner in the Enhanced Livelihoods Investment Initiative (ELII) with the objective to support smallholder farmers around the globe. According to a press release by the three institutions in February this year, the ELII will be a three-year, minimum USD $10 million investment initiative to catalyse economic growth and alleviate poverty amongst low-income communities in the developing world, while creating more inclusive and sustainable value chains. One of the primary goals of the partnership, which leverages Acumen’s and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership’s market-based approaches to poverty alleviation, will be to create and scale-up privately-held enterprises which are to support smallholder farmers and link them to Unilever’s global supply chains and distribution networks.
The three partner institutions believe strongly that this new partnership will improve the lives of smallholder farmers by bringing them into global markets and distribution networks, empowering thousands of people to expand their skills and lift themselves from poverty.
In this context, the partner organisations pointed out that according to the International Fund on Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2.5 billion people were involved in smallholder agriculture globally, accounting for an estimated 500 million small farms producing 80 per cent of the food consumed in emerging markets, from Southern Asia to sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, the increasing trend in global demand for food in developed as well as emerging countries, driven in part by population growth, had created opportunities for the expansion of smallholder agriculture.
However, many of these smallholder farmers face challenges to accessing and adopting beneficial agricultural innovations that can help pull them out of poverty, as the companies providing them with those products and services face a number of obstacles in reaching these customers and achieving profitability.
Leveraging the findings from a recent study titled Growing Prosperity: Developing Repeatable Models® to Scale the Adoption of Agricultural Innovations, Unilever’s, Acumen’s and the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership’s investments will help the companies overcome these challenges.
In the press release the three partners noted that similarly, for corporations, responsible sourcing of raw agricultural products, which is a growing priority, relies heavily on the ability to enable farmers to run profitable farms that can guarantee a reliable supply of raw materials while incorporating best practices in ethical farming. Building sustainable and inclusive supply chains must also extend beyond achieving reliable, high-quality sources for key commodities, and should lead to more prosperous communities with improved livelihoods and quality of life. The ELII has been specifically designed to create, invest in and accelerate the growth of agricultural enterprises and innovative business models that can bring smallholder farmers into global markets.
The three institutions have announced that they will engage their global teams across India, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean in a collaborative process to identify investments, provide capital and deliver technical expertise and capacity building to support enterprise development and impact measurement work.