KIT Royal Tropical Institute conducted an assessment of how the African Agricultural Capital Fund (AACF) affects economic and social outcomes for small family-run farms in Kenya. KIT and Wayfair (UK) were selected because of their expertise in sustainable economic development research and analysis in developing countries.
The AACF started in September 2011 with a number of high profile investors. It makes investments ranging from $250k to $2.5m, particularly in small and medium sized agricultural businesses, through a fund-manager in Uganda. The Fund tries to create positive social impact as well as financial returns, a function which is included in the business agreement with its investors.
The Fund’s investments create opportunities for small family-run farms to increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. They do so by creating jobs and positively affecting businesses related to farmers. They also contribute to more competitive local and national economies.
Evaluating social impact
KIT evaluated AACF’s investments to understand how they improved livelihoods for farmers between 2012-2016. As a starting point, KIT and Wayfair selected six businesses from AACF’s investments for evaluation. A set of criteria was also developed by stakeholders to identify which investments would be evaluated, and in late 2012 two companies were chosen for initial evaluation. Their impact was consequently defined and studied at various levels: the company and its staff, the supplying farmers, and the value chain as a whole.
The selected companies supplied farmers with goods and services including seeds, soil testing kits, fertiliser and business-related knowledge. They also provided farmers with the means to market their produce and considered ways to increase their business knowledge. Their approach focused on generating profits, but also emphasised shareholder value. Most notably, the companies aimed to improve the living standards of both their workers and their supplying farmers.
KIT, in partnership with Wayfair, produced two in-depth baseline studies that provide the necessary data for the evaluation of social impact. As a result, the full impact of these investments on smallholders and the value-chain environment can be assessed. Most importantly, this helps AACF to demonstrate how their investments create social impact in Kenya.