Definitions and acronyms


EWB – Engineers Without Borders

JF – Junior Fellow (me!)

APS – African Program Staff

AP – African Programs

AVC – Agriculture Value Chains

LEAD – Livelihoods and Enterprises for Agricultural Development

USAID – United States Agency for International Development

PSD – Private Sector Development

MSEs – Micro and Small Enterprises

MaFI – Market Facilitation Initiative

M&E – Monitoring and Evaluation

SLA – Sustainable Livelihoods Approach

VCA – Value Chains Approach

ROI – Return on Investment


Upgrading a value chain – Involves increasing value of the production and processes of the value chain.  This allows private sector players to improve competitiveness and move into higher value chain activities, essentially trading up (ex. product upgrading, inter-chain upgrading etc.)

Crowding in – Occurs during the “rolling exit” stage of a market facilitation project. The project works to “crowd in” as many actors as possible around the vision, using the early behavior change adopters as examples and fostering positive competition and cooperation. The goal of this stage is to deepen ownership of the behavior changes in the value chain actors, and broaden the change throughout the value chain so that it becomes a “norm”.

Buying down risk – To assist in demonstrating the benefits of new behavior changes, a market facilitation project might need to “buy down” risk of a value chain actor trying out new behaviors with strategic subsidies. To access these resources, value chain actors must “self select”; that is they must contribute their own resources or otherwise demonstrate commitment to the project’s vision. This usually occurs after conducting research and running small trials, identifying and building relationships with progressive market actors and developing a vision for how the value chain could be improved.

Light touch approach – NGOs address systemic constraints and focus on multiple relationships, as opposed to getting involved as a market actor or providing services. The work of the NGO is done in a way that involves a well thought out exit strategy. Working with a light touch indicates that the NGO may leave the area and the value chain will continue to function in a sustainable manner.

Win-Win business model – Operates in a way that provides a tangible benefit for all parties involved.

Commodity value chain – Focuses on the commodity, not just the end product or service (ex. cotton value chain vs. a t-shirt’s value chain). A commodity value chain is important to understand a smallholder farmer’s situation (instead of focusing on the end market preferences).


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