Livelihood Basix provides solutions for smallholder farmers, women, and youth living in sub-Saharan Africa by addressing issues of agriculture development, financial inclusion, and vocational skills. Basix provides a suite of programs that assist the poor, including deploying technological improvements to agricultural problems, coordinating networks for greater bargaining/purchasing power, increasing access to credit, reducing financial transaction costs, and providing skills-based training for employability. Through these programs, Basix helps to modernize production, decrease costs, and increase yields for farmers in Tanzania. By applying technological solutions and training, struggling farmers are empowered to build their livelihood in sustainable ways. Learn more...
Sanjay Behuria—Ithaca, NY
Sanjay Behuria is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Livelihood BASIX Inc., applying his years of experience in executive positions for the international banking sector to helping improve the lives of underserved people and communities across the world.
Sanjay is a successful consultant and business coach, and Senior Professional Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprises, Johnson School of Management, Cornell University.
Jason Phillips, CertaPro Painters Ltd.
Jason Phillips has twenty years of sales and operations management experience with single business unit and divisional responsibility. His career began in high-tech sales then transitioned into commercial franchising with CertaPro Painters Ltd., North America's largest painting contractor. He spent eight years with CHEP (Formerly IFCO Systems) as General Manager and Commercial Director. Mr. Phillips recently returned to CertaPro Painters Ltd. to develop and lead a national strategic account management program for their Commercial Services Division. Prior to his career in business, Mr. Phillips spent his first two post-graduate years as a Peace Corps volunteer in southern Bolivia doing development work in rural sanitation. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Management from The University of Portland. Mr. Phillips resides in Vancouver, WA with his wife and two children. He enjoys reading history and classic fiction, vacationing with his family, and time on the river.
Social Sector Franchising Innovations Roundtable - October 2017
On Day 2 of the 2017 Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtables, conference participants broke into groups and began the Dynamic Accelerator Solutions Prototyping process, working with each protégé entrepreneur to develop concrete action plans. The action plans include specific recommendations for how each critical issue could be addressed, short-term and longer-term actions the franchisers will take, and the specific ways the mentor will provide technical assistance and support to the protégé. Below you will find Livelihood Basix Inc.’s critical issues and the action plan. This is the product of our solutions prototyping process; and the framework that we’ve developed for our mentoring process over the next six months.
1. Training and Development
Sanjay expressed concerns around the behavioral changes that will need to take place in each farm to guarantee the success of LBI’s model. As mentioned, farmers in the region have been using outdated farming practices, and need to change those in order to increase productivity to a level that would allow the group access to financial markets and large buyers, as well as guarantee long term increase in wages.
LBI faces potential issues in the adoption of the new practices, including use of hybrid sunflower seeds and fertilizer. Although they have had success in getting all farmers to adopt hybrid seeds, there are concerns that, if the best practices around this type of seed are not followed, production could not be as high as needed and the organization may loose the goodwill of the participants. Besides the farming practices, patterns around sale and distribution of sunflower seeds will have to change. Many farmers are indebted during planting and need cash quickly after the harvest. Given those constraints, it is possible some farmers may not wait to sell the aggregate along with the rest of the group, and sell their yield to petty traders instead, as they had done before LBI.
In order to mitigate those risks, LBI has provided training to the franchisees regarding financial compliance and best practices regarding hybrid seeds. These franchisees are also responsible for setting up demonstration plots where they will compare previous practices to new practices side by side, showing to the farmers in their groups the benefits of adopting the new materials and methods LBI provides.
The group discussed other methods that may aid in incentivizing adherence to best practices beyond the demonstration plots, including learnings from behavioral economics and how choices can be presented in a way to make people more likely to comply. A specific idea would be to create an opt out (as opposed to opt in) system for products such as fertilizers, and to make it financially more attractive to comply with the methods LBI proposes. Buy-in from farmers can be leveraged to incentivize behavior, and LBI can even use a form of peer pressure to get the last of the reluctant farmers to adhere to the practices. Future options could also include developing a systematic curriculum for the farmers.
- Not much can be done now except for observation to identify improvement points, and ad hoc interventions.
- Consider how to communicate the best practices - who is being trained and do they know how to pass on that knowledge to farmers? Would it be worth creating a curriculum, and how would it be best implemented? Also what would happen if farmers do not adhere to practices? Are there consequences? How would that affect farmers and LBI?
Being based out of Ithaca, NY, and working with a large number of individuals in a complex system in Tanzania, it is crucial LBI considers in organizational structure now, as well as how they can develop a governance structure that is sustainable in the long run. Sanjay mentioned there have been shifts in how the organization is set up in Tanzania, and that they may need (and be able to get) an office in country to be able to better manage their operations. There is a need for enhanced in-country assistance, connections and guidance in Tanzania. Further, as financing is a consideration, Sanjay mentioned he has considered the option of converting LBI into a for profit structure in case investment options are a better fit instead of grants and donations.
- Start taking steps to design and fill in country structure
- Building relationships with possible advisors in Tanzania
- Consider what would be best legal structure
3. Financial Sustainability
The financial sustainability of Livelihood BASIX Inc. is contingent upon further financing after December 2018. Sanjay expressed concerns over communicating the efficacy of the model to the potential funders and even identifying the best sources for funding. Several issues arose in the discussion including proving the concept and gathering the data that will show success and promise of growth in the next round of expansion.
The financial sustainability is contingent upon proving the model, and that will come with being able to quantify results and impact. Forecasting is important going forward, so that the estimates can be compared with actual outcomes at the end of the harvest. LBI has a smartphone app, CropIn, that is used by franchisees to keep track of farmers’ lands and crops, and will be an important asset in gathering all of this data. Sanjay will consider collecting data on short term outcomes, such as increases year to year, decreasing risk, progress of financial institutions buying into the model, etc. This is a way to show the funders that, from the little LBI has, there have been great results, and from there identify metrics on what other behaviors can be further changed to improve outcomes. The team emphasized the need for clear metrics and documentation, and clarifying the longer term impact LBI can have on increased health, education outcomes.
If LBI can show that it can reach a certain amount of farmers in the agricultural sector in a certain region, they would be a great asset for NGOs and practitioners as sub-grantees, and may source funding through those types of partnerships.
As mentioned previously, another factor that donors consider is governance, and working on building a strong advisory board that is well connected and respected in economic development will work in favor of building LBI’s authority and long-term sustainability.
The group agreed that, regardless of their performance, LBI still needs improve their ability to communicate their work succinctly to donors. First, LBI could develop a logic model highlighting the most important components of what they do and how they connect to the impact they are having in the lives of farmers along with financial data. The ability to convey their ideas, and to build a structure to sustain over the long term will be key in LBI’s success.
- Identify important metric to track, and make forecast predictions along with tracking
- Develop a quick pith and logic model – clarify communication of the model
- Identify funding sources (will be dependent on legal structure)