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Capacities required

The product champion should have the relevant technical capacities and financial muscle to invest in and drive the development of bundled services. Other partners should be able to bring to the table key skills, from content aggregation to marketing and distribution of services. Selected partners can take a leading role in identifying appropriate methods of entering the market in line with their knowledge of the rural market.

Key capacities that are embodied by the Agri-Fin mobile program are essential for developing the bundled services:

  • Facilitation - The Agri-Fin team identified key players in the agriculture and telecommunications sectors and facilitated the development of solid partnerships based on the shared value approach.
  • Market insight - In each country there was need to develop marketing strategies for the bundled services, and understanding of rural market needs was crucial.
  • All-round skills and knowledge of the two crosscutting sectors: agriculture and telecommunications.

Zimbabwe: Econet wireless – Product champion

Econet Wireless International is a diversified global telecommunications group and the country’s leading mobile network operator. Econet Wireless Services is a subsidiary mandated to offer mobile money services, solar products, and mobile solutions. EcoFarmer is the unit tasked to develop services for the agriculture sector, focusing on under-served smallholder farmers. Econet owns the Ecofarmer suite of services. With the support of partners, Econet

  • drives the development of bundled services
  • invests in the development of the technical platform
  • markets and distributes
  • directs scaling and expansion

To date over 200,000 smallholder farmers have opted for the Ecofarmer suite of services.

Governance and policy environment

In the three countries, various working groups have been set up to drive the identification of the services to be bundled depending on the needs of the smallholder farmers, content of the advisory services, nature of the bundle, and the distribution of the bundle of services. The working groups comprise representatives from government ministries, private sector, and farmer union representatives.

An encouraging policy environment and an enabling regulatory environment drives success. This is achieved through the inclusion of policy makers in all stages of the project. The ministry of agriculture all three countries was continuously engaged and was encouraged to participate. The participatory approach was employed when the programme started – key stakeholders in the industry were given the opportunity to participate in the development and delivery of the bundled services to smallholder farmers.