Innovative Learning Program Launches Value Chain Research to New Heights
“I am part of the value chain, and the value is coming to me—plenty!”
—a Ghanaian rice trader benefitting from broader business relationships
Arguably the most important project in ACDI/VOCA’s recent history, the Accelerated Microenterprise Advancement Project (AMAP) ended on March 31. A recent issue of microlinks Connections, a USAID newsletter, pays homage to the project’s groundbreaking achievement in establishing a value chain framework. It links to a video conversation between AMAP designer and contract officer, Jeanne Downing, and project manager, ACDI/VOCA’s Ruth Campbell. It also includes a reflection from Olaf Kula, currently an ACDI/VOCA chief of party in Ghana, who helped conceive of the value chain approach.
Value Chain Research Meets Practical Application
“We did what we set out to do 10 years ago,” says Jeanne Downing. As noted at a recent USAID learning event, a value chain framework is a new standard approach to stimulating economic development and reducing poverty. AMAP, which took the idea from academic research to concept to application to evaluation and now wide dissemination, gets much of the credit. As Downing points out, USAID has now codified best practices and accumulated a body of evidence.
Learning Agenda Increased in Scope Over Course of Program
Implemented by ACDI/VOCA with a host of partners, AMAP did evolve. For example, Downing and Campbell discuss how the conception of the enabling environment morphed from a concern about policies and regulations to a broader one that included culture. And, as Campbell points out, there has been recent preoccupation about how to include the very poor in value chain development. Above all, it has produced tools that allow practitioners to jump-start broad-based, effective approaches.
Value Chain Approach Leads to Transformative Development
Olaf Kula agrees with what Downing called AMAP’s advantage in bringing a value chain approach “down to ground.” As a development implementer in Ghana, he says he is often “struck by the disconnect between development activities ostensibly supporting the same sector.” He adds, “A common framework and approach is needed to identify where different initiatives impact agricultural systems and how they can build on each other to transform the sector. This is where the value chain approach comes in.”