Smallholder Development Unit
With support from the Mastercard Foundation, AgDevCo's Smallholder Development Unit (SDU) connects agribusinesses, including our own investees, to thousands of smallholder farmers.

SDU objectives

Recognising that there are high set-up costs and economies of scale in smallholder outgrower schemes, the SDU provides up to $800,000 matching funding per project to support key systems and processes, enabling catalytic relationships between agribusinesses and smallholder farmers. Funds can be used to:

  • Conduct feasibility studies and define core components of an outgrower scheme
  • Implement and scale outgrower schemes, funding initial set-up and operational costs
  • Establish demonstration plots and training programmes to promote adoption of good agricultural practices
  • Develop information technology systems to manage smallholder schemes and track their impacts
  • Gain certifications (GlobalG.A.P., Fair for Life, Organic) to access new and premium markets for both business and farmer
  • Input credit schemes and link smallholder farmers to micro-finance institutions
  • Improve farming systems, income diversification, farmer resilience and environmental sustainability

SDU opportunities

AgDevCo’s Smallholder Development Unit is no longer accepting unsolicited proposals for new funding partnerships. 

2020 impact targets

agribusinesses with outgrower schemes
smallholder farmers benefitting from demos, training and viable commercial relationships
122,500 HA
grown using improved farming technologies
of smallholder farmers targeted to be women
of smallholder farmers targeted to be 15-35 years old

SDU selection criteria

Key selection criteria are:

  • strong business case for working with thousands of smallholder farmers
  • willingness and ability to cost share 
  • commitment to impact smallholder farmers
  • financial sustainability of the outgrower scheme beyond SDU funding
  • commitment to monitoring and reporting on the benefits delivered to smallholder farmers
  • openness to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of outgrower schemes through the use of new technologies
  • demonstrable commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance and financial management