Locally led impact networks can play a critical role in strengthening business ecosystems by bringing their members together to address complex systemic challenges. In rural sub-Saharan Africa, impact networks have the potential to deliver significant impact by aligning key stakeholders who are committed to strengthening financial systems and resources, and increasing the income-generating opportunities needed to improve lives along every step of their respective value chains.

We are pleased to announce that we are commencing work with four impact networks in West Africa, to understand and demonstrate their reach, potential, business models and the challenges that they experience. Supported by Small Foundation, this action research will seek to articulate ways to address these challenges and disseminate this learning to a wider community of networks, funders, and other ecosystem actors. The research builds on our work over the past two years with four networks based in Kenya and Uganda: AFRACA, ANDE East Africa, IIA Kenya, and the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance in which we tested and demonstrated the potential of the Converge networks approach[1].

Our West Africa research participants:

The Fairtrade West Africa Network

The Fairtrade West Africa Network is one of the four regional networks of Fairtrade Africa, working with producers in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, other satellite countries in West Africa, and in Cameroun. Fairtrade works with cocoa, coffee, banana, shea, cotton, fresh and dried fruit producers across the region to get better trade terms, access markets and build their capacity and social infrastructure.

Invest in Africa, Ghana

Invest in Africa, Ghana (IIA Ghana) has been operating in Ghana since 2014, focused on job creation and improvement of the business environment for investors and local SMEs. IIA Ghana’s priority is to increase the linkages between large international and domestic companies and smaller local businesses by facilitating their access to skills, markets and finance.

Social Enterprise Ghana

Social Enterprise Ghana (SE Ghana) is the national network for high-impact social entrepreneurs in Ghana. SE Ghana has a current membership of 720 social enterprises operating in diverse sectors of climate-smart agribusiness, circular economy, health services, inclusive financial services, TVET and education. SE Ghana advocates for business-friendly policies for social enterprises and supports members with training, research, access to skills, access to market, access to technology and access to finance. SE Ghana has a goal of increasing funding to social enterprises by catalysing $1billion dollars for social enterprises in Ghana by 2030.

Welcome2Africa International

Welcome2Africa International (W2A) is a trade and investment facilitation company, whose mission is to become a centre of excellence for the facilitation and deployment of investments and trade on the African continent. Through knowledge dissemination, convening and stakeholder engagement activities, along with bespoke client services, W2A seeks to catalyse and facilitate finance, investments, and trade into and across Africa – with a focus on Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector.

Research participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Reflect on their reach, potential, challenges, ambition for impact, and business models
  • Consider the potential of a networks approach to address these challenges and deepen member engagement
  • Explore tools for Impact Measurement and Management (IMM)
  • Increase research visibility with members, stakeholders and funders

The learning from this research will further deepen our understanding of the current and potential impact and role of impact networks in the West African rural entrepreneurial ecosystem.

[1] https://ssir.org/articles/entry/five_steps_to_building_an_effective_impact_network