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Connecting the Concepts of Frugality and Inclusion to Appraise Business Practices in Systems of Food Provisioning: A Kenyan Case Study

Greetje Schouten, Sietze Vellema, Peter Knorringa

Small and medium size business enterprises (SMEs) are the linchpin in systems of food provisioning in sub-Saharan Africa. These businesses occupy the middle of the agri-food chain and face a food security conundrum: they must ensure that smallholder producers of limited means can operate under fair terms while low-income consumers are supplied with affordable and nutritious food. This task becomes even more challenging when resources are scarce. This paper explores how resource-constrained SMEs arrange the terms on which both farmers and consumers are included in agri-food chains.

To this end, it combines the concept of inclusion with that of frugality. We use the case of a Kenyan SME to demonstrate how a focus on frugality can advance our understanding of how business practices create thriving business relationships with smallholders while simultaneously ensuring access to affordable food for consumers. We additionally identify what conditions for inclusion emerge from this type of dynamic business practices.