institutional strengthening 

Our Approach

ACDI/VOCA was established in 1963 to integrate the principles of the American cooperative movement into U.S. foreign assistance. The co-op movement played a significant role in the rural development of the United States and brought rural households access to services, financing, and markets. ACDI/VOCA has applied this approach to economic development with cooperatives, businesses, and market systems in the developing world. We have created effective technical approaches that build up institutions in agriculture, enterprise development, finance, and food security.  ACDI/VOCA is distinguished by its ability to strengthen organizations.

kenya regalag market pens 


ACDI/VOCA routinely approaches policy reform from a market perspective. We coach associations and other business organizations to advocate for their members. They, in turn, identify the policy and administrative rules that limit industry performance and make an economic argument for policy reform to their governments. After all, governments are most motivated to reform policies when they understand the relative costs of not doing so and when they can see the value and impact of an empowered private-sector constituency.

Ghana ADVANCE maize field training 


Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) is a relatively new industry approach that captures/encapsulates/reflects how we’ve worked for a long time. Our trend-setting value chain practice led the development industry to adopt a participatory approach by sector that involves multiple perspectives and minimal direct interventions. Such a collaborative approach involves mutual learning, relationship-building, and improving communication channels to highlight opportunities for stakeholder innovative behavior.

coop ac celebration 

Cooperatives & Associations

ACDI/VOCA promotes different types of organizations based on community context and goals, including legally registered cooperatives, associations, and informal self-help groups. ACDI/VOCA’s cooperative and association development approach is tailored to the needs of group members and local conditions. The goal is a more vibrant, competitive, and diverse market environment. ACDI/VOCA has developed an award-winning methodology for strengthening cooperatives and associations: Sell More For More™ which helps farmers earn more income by improving post-harvest handling and executing effective market-oriented business plans.

two people with quinoa 


Within the institutions we strengthen, we promote gender equity in leadership and management positions. Within the communities where we work, we support women’s groups as they provide a safe space for open dialogue on priority issues. We strengthen institutions so that they can support women increase their autonomy, expand their access to resources, and enhance their own capacity.


Affiliated Financial Institutions

Since 1992, ACDI/VOCA has established rural and microfinance institutions in the Caucuses, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. These institutions offer a range of financial products and demonstrate the depth of our commitment to promoting financial inclusion. Several of these institutions began as USAID-funded projects. As they grew, we provided technical assistance and oversight. In Central Asia, the Network of Affiliated Financial Institutions that our nine financial institutions united to form in 2013 is a testament to these initiatives’ success. The network has over $295 million in loans outstanding to 180,000 clients, 44 percent of whom are women.

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Signature Tool STAIRS


Project staff and stakeholders often feel isolated from the bigger picture of project design. The STAIRS work-planning guide helps projects and external stakeholders to effectively plan activities in an inclusive and participatory manner.  Through the open and transparent process of STAIRS, all staff and stakeholders can inform the work plan and gain a complete understanding of project activities.



Local organizations have the potential to offer critical services and products to their communities, but often lack the skills and resources needed to meet client needs. Aptitude develops local organizational leaders so that they can attain sustainable practices and establish viable networks for continued growth. It also empowers local organizations to strengthen individual capacity and to improve their ability to act collectively.

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