Winrock’s programs in the U.S. and around the world harness the power of markets and knowledge to boost incomes and employment opportunities. Utilizing a market-driven and collaborative approach, we work with governments, educators, NGOs and the private sector to train workers and create economic opportunity so that communities can reach their unique economic potential.
Budding entrepreneurs in the Mississippi River Delta region often lack resources crucial to business success — a deficit that discourages job creation, stunts economic growth and perpetuates persistent poverty. To address these issues, the Delta I-Fund program, in partnership with the Delta Regional Authority, trains cohorts of entrepreneurs in successful startup practices, connects them with local business mentors and provides them with capital sourced from private investors. Bolstered by knowledge and funding, these businesspeople are better prepared to bring their innovative ideas to life.
Contact: Jeff Stinson
In rural Kenya, solar water pumps (SWPs) can help smallholder farmers save on fuel costs, increase acreage, and grow more than one crop a year. However, many farmers don’t know about these benefits or lack credit options to purchase their own SWPs. The USAID-funded Kenya Smallholder Solar Irrigation project (KSSI) works to accelerate commercial sales of SWPs to small farmers through demonstrations, product assessments, and technical assistance to SWP retailers and financial institutions.
Though the bulk of Winrock’s programs are outside the United States, we are committed to improving lives in our home state of Arkansas by boosting the state’s competitiveness in the increasingly important high-tech economy. To do that, we work with technology inventors and entrepreneurs to smooth the often difficult journey from raw idea or insight to viable commercial enterprise. Innovate Arkansas helps scale Arkansas ventures through three key focuses: Acceleration, Capital, and Talent. Innovate Arkansas has helped more than 140 clients add 600+ jobs to the Arkansas economy while raising $265 million in investments, and generating $226 million in revenue.
Guinea has plenty of farmable land and water, a large youth population, and three quarters of its labor force employed in agriculture. But despite these advantages, the nation is still one of the poorest in the world. One reason is the lack of opportunity that prevents women and youth from contributing significantly to the economy. Guinea’s Strengthening Market-Led Agricultural Research, Technology and Education (SMARTE) is enhancing the nation’s agricultural strengths by working with these populations, boosting education, promoting agricultural extension and introducing new technologies.
The Wallace Center supports entrepreneurs and communities as they build a new, 21st century food system that is healthier for people, the environment and the economy. The demand for locally produced food is strong, growing and often outstrips the ability of small farmers to keep up. Through research, education and technical assistance, The Wallace Center at Winrock International helps groups of local producers (known as food hubs) work together to reach and serve large and sustainable markets.
Complex problems require transcendent solutions, ones that span borders and sectors. Human trafficking is such a problem, and the Asia Counter Trafficking in Persons program (USAID Asia CTIP) is such a solution. A five-year (2016-2021) program, USAID Asia CTIP is a regional activity that focuses on transnational and regional challenges to combat human trafficking. The program aims to reduce the trafficking of persons in Asia through a coordinated and consolidated action by governments, civil society and business that will foster cross-border cooperation, develop opportunities for private-sector leadership and improve the quality of data associated with human trafficking.
CTIP Bangladesh Project Page
CTIP Cambodia Project Page
Bangladesh’s aquaculture industry is growing, but its small-scale shrimp and prawn producers still need help. They lack the resources and the knowledge of international standards to run farms and hatcheries to their full potential. By providing farmers with technical training and access to financial services — and by building the capacity of the trade associations and government agencies they work with — this project aims to boost livelihoods, increase productivity in the shrimp and prawn industries, and improve food quality and safety in Bangladesh.
The Innovation Hub is a collaborative and diverse community of all ages, interests, and skill levels. We have worked hard to create an accessible space that is open to anyone who wants to Learn and Build with us. We believe that the challenges of the 21st-century economy require us to do everything we can to develop, retain, and attract talent — which has always been our state’s greatest asset. That demands a collaborative community approach that exposes everyone to creative possibilities and offers ready access to the information, resources, and instruction they need to bring their ideas to fruition.
We have created an open environment with tools, technology, equipment, and support, along with the opportunity to Learn and Build through formal and informal programs. The result is an acceleration of innovation that leads to new products, new businesses, and new works of art, as well as an enhanced appreciation for what it possible when we provide the pathways for every individual to realize his or her potential.
Tanzania has relatively abundant water resources, although population growth and poor management has made shortages increasingly common. The goal of this project is to use market-driven approaches to support sustainable access to water, particularly in poor and rural areas. Part of the solution is to increase the number and effectiveness of entrepreneurs engaged in water supply, sanitation and hygiene activities in remote villages. Also important is the implementation of a multiple-use water services (MUS) approach that bases planning and financing strategies around a community’s many domestic and commercial water needs.
Success in the global economy starts at the local level. Only when communities have access to capital, business knowledge, trained employees and other resources can companies launch and grow. This program establishes business development incubators across Arkansas that provides rural entrepreneurs the information and training they need to succeed.
Encouraging private enterprise in Liberia’s agriculture sector is critical if the country is to lower its high rates of unemployment and poverty. Progress will require extensive changes — everything from bolstering the country’s road infrastructure and weak institutions to promoting the importance of women and youth in agriculture. As a partner on this USAID-funded program, Winrock provides technical assistance to help increase farmer productivity and profitability.
The great majority of Nigerian farmers cultivate plots of land smaller than two hectares (about five acres). The goal of this program, part of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, is to boost food security and the income of small farmers by encouraging them to respond to consumer demand; instead of farmers selling what they produce, they need to produce what they can sell. This market-driven mentality is accelerated through training, access to financing, seeds and fertilizer and improved collaboration among those in the agricultural value chain.
Climate change and a growing population are putting increasing levels of stress on Bangladesh’s forests, wetlands and other ecosystems. The USAID-funded Climate Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods program is helping to disseminate management methods that help communities better collaborate with local and national governments to balance biodiversity protection with sustainable economic development.
Human health and the environment suffer when people burn wood and other solid fuels in rudimentary stoves and fires to meet their cooking and heating needs. The goal of this USAID-funded program is to create a market for clean, energy-efficient stoves. In Kenya, Winrock is helping to eliminate distribution bottlenecks by expanding cookstove distribution networks and increasing the availability of both consumer and distributor financing, which makes cleaner cookstoves more affordable and accessible to Kenyan consumers.
Inefficient and outdated technology have made Macedonia one of the most energy-intensive economies in Europe. This program helps the country establish the necessary legal and investment frameworks to encourage implementation of renewable energy technologies and adoption of low emissions development strategies.
The vast majority of Nepalese living in rural areas lack access to electricity, a key ingredient for improving food security and economic opportunity. This program eliminates financial and technical barriers that stand in the way of rural communities reaping the benefits of renewable energy. Supported by the Dutch development bank and NMB bank, Winrock bridges the gap between end users and local financial institutions as well as the divide between local financial institutions and commercial banks. This is accomplished through a series of awareness campaigns, orientation programs and capacity building initiatives. So far, the effort has resulted in nearly 14,000 households receiving electricity from small solar, micro hydro and clean and efficient cooking solutions.
Crops that spoil or arrive at market in a condition consumers reject are a missed opportunity for Bangladesh to reduce its food insecurity and increase the profits of its small farmers. To address that problem, the Cold Chain Bangladesh Alliance is helping small farmers produce high-value products local consumers want and to establish the cold chain infrastructure (basically, a refrigerated supply chain) necessary to deliver those goods to market.
Crops that spoil or arrive at market in a condition consumers reject are a missed opportunity for the Philippines to reduce its food insecurity and increase the profits of its small farmers. To address that problem, the Philippines Cold Chain Project works to help smallholder farmers and fishermen on the island of Mindanao to produce high-value products consumers want, and to establish the cold chain infrastructure (basically, a refrigerated supply chain) necessary to ensure those goods are fresh and appealing when they arrive at market. The project also seeks to facilitate and encourage production and post-harvest handling practices that reduce losses of perishable food products.
As Georgia’s economy and industries grow, so too do the country’s projected greenhouse gas emissions. This is exacerbated by Georgia’s outdated and inefficient lighting, heating and energy systems. This program works with the national government, municipalities, businesses and others to develop and implement a national low emission development strategy. Among the tools being developed are municipal-level sustainable energy action plans, policies and guidelines that promote cleaner energy use, and the promotion of energy efficiency and green buildings to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and improve its economic competitiveness.
This project takes a comprehensive approach to help the government of Rwanda and its tea producers eliminate child labor in this key sector of the country’s economy. Besides improving access to formal and vocational education and strengthening the enforcement of existing labor laws, REACH-T raises awareness of child labor’s long-term effects. Building on Rwanda’s policy framework, the project will expand the national response to ensure that tea producers employ good labor practices and the sector is poised for growth with sustainably produced tea.
Improved cookstoves can reduce harmful indoor smoke and save time or money for families through fuel savings. But they are not readily adopted, often because the cookstoves available to families don’t fully meet their needs. To better understand and overcome this problem, the WASHplus project undertook consumer research studies in Bangladesh and Nepal that allowed families to try out cookstoves in their homes for several months and provide feedback. The studies also measured cookstove performance and helped gauge how willing families are to pay for them. Based on these studies, WASHplus developed a toolkit for other groups interested in undertaking similar research. WASHplus also supported the development of international voluntary standards for cookstoves; and worked closely with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves along the way.
Consumer demand for sustainably grown local food is an unprecedented opportunity for family farmers. To take full advantage of the opportunity, small farmers are increasingly working with food hubs — enterprises that utilize cooperative aggregation, distribution and marketing strategies. The Wallace Center at Winrock International works to develop and strengthen food hubs that help small farmers gain entry into large markets they could never access on their own and build a strong culture of food safety.
The need for affordable and healthy food is especially acute in Mississippi, a state that routinely leads the nation in obesity and poverty rates. The Wallace Center at Winrock International collaborates with communities, farmers, wholesale distributors and others to build local food value chains that will make healthy and fresh food readily available in the state’s schools, hospitals and stores.
Even though Nigeria is Africa’s largest exporter of crude oil and has some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, over half of the country’s population lives in the dark. Access to energy and the many health and economic benefits it brings is particularly elusive in rural areas. This project aims to make clean energy more readily available through increased access to private sector finance. The project supports technical assistance for bank and project developers, and promotes policy changes that improve business conditions.
Although many parts of Arkansas have prospered thanks to increased economic development, rural areas of the state are still plagued by high levels of unemployment and poverty. Because municipalities and other locally based organizations are on the front lines of addressing these problems, it’s vital their leaders have the knowledge to develop effective strategies to build strong local economies. Winrock provides training to help leaders identify an area’s needs and develop proven approaches to train workers, attract businesses and take advantage of unique local assets.
Skills retraining is essential to sustainable employment for dislocated and long-term unemployed workers. The Job-Driven National Emergency Grant is a collaborative partnership that helps disadvantaged Arkansans gain the skills and referrals they need to land positions in high-growth industries like medical billing and coding. Winrock case managers based at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith work with prospective employees to locate training options, write resumes, apply for jobs and prepare for interviews.
Millions of people in Nepal have no access to electricity and rely on firewood, kerosene and cow dung for their lighting and cooking needs. The resulting conditions harm human health, are damaging to the environment and make economic development more challenging. To address this, Winrock is working with Ace Development Bank and local financial institutions, renewable technology suppliers, and others to make financing for the installation of renewable energy technologies more readily available. Financial support from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has led to nearly 11,000 households receiving sustainable forms of electricity from small solar systems and cleaner cooking solutions from improved cook stoves and biogas facilities.
Increasing the productivity and profitability of smallholders in Burma has the potential to substantially improve food security and livelihoods in poor, rural communities. The USAID-funded Value Chains for Rural Development program provides technical assistance to producers, farmer groups, agribusinesses and community organizations in the coffee, soybean and horticulture value chains. The project leverages the expertise of volunteers to improve farmer productivity and market access. By introducing new technologies and techniques, improving access to extension services, stimulating private sector investment and promoting market-based approaches, this program aims to boost production and incomes of 80,000 households.
Tibetans have long relied on the natural environment for their livelihoods. But climate change and other factors threaten the future viability of Tibet’s traditional herding and agriculture practices. The Support for Ethnic Tibetans in China Project engages Tibetan communities in the west and southwest of China and provides them with the scientific knowledge and tools they need to adapt in ways that preserve their natural resources, livelihoods and culture.
As the home base for Walmart and Tyson Foods, Northwest Arkansas has done a remarkable job attracting and retaining large corporations. But creating an environment that lures innovative technology entrepreneurs and the high-paying jobs they create requires something a bit different. Building on the success of Innovate Arkansas, the NWA Venture team, in partnership with the Walton Family Foundation and the Northwest Arkansas Council, brings together a community of engineers, artists and innovators to build a region that draws and keeps entrepreneurs from around the globe.
The availability of fresh and healthy local food often depends on the success of farmers markets. For markets to reach their potential individual vendors and market organizers need training and financial resources to boost sales and awareness. This program provides new and emerging farmers markets in Arkansas with instruction on topics ranging from fundraising to marketing and promotion to vendor recruitment and retention.
Though human trafficking is a global problem, successful efforts to combat it must start at the local level. Focused on 25 highly vulnerable districts, the Bangladesh Counter Trafficking-in-Persons Program aims to mobilize and coordinate the actions of local and national governments, non-governmental organizations, and citizens and community leaders. Program activities include: supporting and empowering survivors; increasing the effectiveness of prosecution; and engaging all layers of society to end human trafficking.
The demand for palm oil has provided vital economic opportunities to many Indonesians. At the same time, the conversion of forests and drainage of peatland to create palm oil plantations is a leading source of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Winrock has designed two scalable and replicable pilot projects that demonstrate the feasibility of improving the management of peatland areas currently devoted to palm oil production — an approach that would reduce emissions while increasing long-term sustainability.
No country can reach its full potential when women don’t have equal access to education and economic opportunity. The Feed the Future Bangladesh Women’s Empowerment Activity helps women develop the skills they need to improve agricultural livelihoods, make decisions in their families, and be leaders in their communities. Winrock also engages men and local leaders to support gender equality, a key to achieving food security and sustainable development.
The palm oil industry has provided economic opportunity to small farmers in the West African nation of Liberia. To build on the progress and benefit even more smallholders, this program works to open up new markets and expand the products that can be made from oil palms. The project also emphasizes the importance of sustainable practices that reduce deforestation and other harmful environmental impacts.
Nobody knows the challenges and opportunities faced by farmers better than other farmers. Credibility and practical know-how are at the core of this program connecting U.S.-based volunteer farmers and agricultural experts with Asian universities, government training centers, and individual farmers. Through instruction and hands-on training, thousands of Asian farmers and fishers learn about practices and technologies that can boost both the sustainability of their businesses as well as their incomes.
Milk quality and valuable income are lost because over 800,000 smallholder Kenyan dairy farmers have no refrigeration to store their milk. As a result, over 40 percent of milk in Kenya is not processed and much of it spoils because farmers have no access to grid electricity or expensive diesel-powered generators. This innovative USAID program, which is assisted by technology partner SunDanzer, is changing that dynamic by pioneering affordable on-farm solar milk chillers in a first-ever pilot project. The project also works with local savings and credit cooperatives to establish financing for the solar milk chillers.
Increased globalization and economic downturns have buffeted rural communities throughout Arkansas. Decisions about how to respond and rebuild a rural community’s economic base often fall to municipal leaders, many of whom lack the staff, knowledge and resources to develop effective economic development strategies. Through group training and one-on-one mentoring, this program helps municipal leaders develop road maps for increased quality of place that attracts families and businesses and creates sustainable economies.
Workforce skills training is critical for dislocated and unemployed workers to access new employment in high-demand, growth industries. As part of a collaborative effort led by the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, Winrock helps the state’s long-term unemployed and dislocated workers obtain the training, placement and other services they need to land a new job.
The local food movement is improving the health, economies and environment of communities around the country. But for the benefits of healthy and sustainably grown food to reach more Americans, changes throughout the food chain are required. The Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network helps build regional food hubs that allow all participants in the supply chain to share the knowledge and resources necessary to meet the burgeoning demand for local food.
Delighting consumers isn’t the only key to the success of regional and local food hubs; farmers also have to follow the USDA’s food safety regulations. Technology offers the possibility of an effective, efficient and hassle-free way to ensure compliance. The Wallace Center at Winrock International is working with growers, USDA and technology company FoodLogiQ to pilot and test an information technology solution that will streamline regulatory compliance and solidify consumer confidence in the safety of local and regional food.
A recent expansion of the Southwest Steel Processing plant in Northeast Arkansas provides an opportunity to improve the area’s economy well beyond the factory walls. This program seeks to create jobs by recruiting and assisting companies that can offer essential services to Southwest Steel Processing. Establishing a robust roster of local suppliers encourages the investment and job creation needed to improve the region’s quality of life.
Millions of Egyptians live below the poverty line and the results are predictably bad, including high rates of illiteracy and infant mortality. In the area of the country known as Upper Egypt — which consists of the Nile River Valley from Cairo south to Lake Nasser — the majority of impoverished people are agricultural laborers, landless farmers and smallholders. This program uses a combination of technical assistance and market-oriented approaches to help these smallholders better serve consumers and increase their incomes.
Technology and innovation will create the 21st century’s best and highest-paying jobs. To help its home state reap the benefits of technology-driven economic development, Winrock’s Innovate Arkansas program is a critical resource for the state’s entrepreneurs. Through one-on-one client assistance specific to a company’s needs, we work to transform promising ideas and inventions into sustainable businesses.
America’s small businesses have always been an engine for innovation and job creation. In Winrock’s home state of Arkansas, women-owned small businesses have been growing at a rate 1.5 times faster than the national average. Through the Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC), Winrock is helping fuel that trend by providing thousands of hours of training and the sort of access to markets and capital that entrepreneurs need to grow their companies.
Delivering clean electricity to regions that lack reliable access to power addresses two interconnected challenges: climate change and poverty. As part of an overall effort to provide 100 percent renewable energy to the citizens of the Indonesian island of Sumba, this program delivers the technical expertise required for schools to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Powering these schools with solar — and becoming a community charging station for solar lanterns — allows teachers and students to study without interruption and helps alleviate the poverty that arises when there’s no access to energy.
Pressured by global demand for cocoa and persistent poverty, many cocoa farmers in Ghana rely on child labor. With limited opportunities for education and livelihoods in rural cocoa communities, youth between 15 and 17 years are particularly at risk of engaging in hazardous child labor. This program works with cocoa communities to raise awareness about the dangers of child labor and offers youth promising alternatives, including skills training, job placement in age-appropriate work and educational opportunities.
American consumers increasingly recognize that locally grown food is not only fresh and delicious, but also provides communities important environmental and economic benefits. The Wallace Center at Winrock International is collaborating with farmers, wholesalers, distributors and other partners in Maryland to meet the state’s burgeoning demand for local food through food hubs. By delivering collective marketing, packaging, product aggregation and other activities, food hubs improve the financial viability of producers and increase the availability of nutritious food.
Navigating workforce skills training and job opportunities isn’t always intuitive. Which is why Winrock case managers provide assistance to disadvantaged job seekers in Arkansas as they pursue much-needed training and employment. In cooperation with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services — which received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor — Winrock case managers provide one-on-one services to ensure that those looking for work receive training, resume writing assistance and other services they need to secure and retain a job.
Poverty and food insecurity are inextricably linked in Bangladesh. Particularly vulnerable are women, youth and those in areas of the country most likely to be impacted by climate change. The goal of this program is to improve nutrition and food security through training in entrepreneurship, improved production of high-value foods as well as reliable access to markets and important agricultural inputs.
Overcrowded classrooms, low pay and limited professional development makes it hard to be a teacher in Malawi. And low teacher morale makes it tough for children to get a quality education. Japan Tobacco International, which sources much of its tobacco in Malawi and funds the ARISE pilot program there, is providing training and resources to teachers in three rural areas of the country where ARISE is active. This support for teachers helps improve the quality of education and contributes to lower levels of child labor.
Increasing awareness that local food is nutritious and good for both the environment and the economy has propelled the growth of regional food economies. In order to encourage more investment in regional food systems and sustainable agriculture, it’s important to showcase the benefits to local economies and communities. This program seeks to build awareness by assisting The Wallace Center at Winrock International in expanding the reach of its National Good Food Network by developing a regional food economies working group and fellows program, and by supporting a national communications strategy that underscores the economic benefits of fostering local food systems.
WASHINGTON – January 11, 2017 – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a new regional program to…
By Ben Amick, Senior Adviser, Winrock’s Business Development and External Affairs Group Editor’s Note: Winrock is empowering Asian farmers through…
Feed the Future week is September 12-16. Here’s one way Winrock is helping #EndHunger now. By Tim May The humble…
Burmese specialty beans hit the international market. And Winrock is there to celebrate. On August 23, the first shipment of Burmese…
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. — On Tuesday, August 23, Winrock International, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Coffee Quality…