It’s a deceptively simple formula: Businesses succeed when they give customers what they want. But identifying and accessing the most promising and profitable markets can be a complex and time-consuming task. Winrock helps farmers and entrepreneurs to develop the right products and deliver them to markets that demand them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Mindinao 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.
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.
The Wallace Center at Winrock International advances regional and collaborative efforts to make healthy local food available to larger numbers of consumers. Why? Expanding the availability of local food benefits producers, local economies and the environment. This donation will help fund the Wallace Center’s general project work in a number of areas, including efforts to build capacity, improve food safety practices and collaboration and test new sales and distribution models.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Growing awareness that how we feed ourselves impacts the environment, the economy and human health has spurred a burgeoning local and regional food movement. Most media coverage so far has focused on the benefits to consumers. But in order to grow the movement and encourage more investment in sustainable agriculture, it’s important to showcase the benefits to local economies and communities. The Wallace Center at Winrock International works with organizations across the country to develop communications strategies that build the case for strong local and regional food systems.
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.
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