A long partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) plays a critical role in mobilizing capital to support agricultural portfolio companies during the pandemic.
Since 2015, the Technical Assistance (TA) team has partnered with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to support the sustainable business development of responsAbility agriculture portfolio companies.
Considering the unprecedented nature and magnitude of the Covid-19 crisis, the Technical Assistance team conducted a needs assessment to identify the main challenges faced by our portfolio companies globally, with the objective to provide pragmatic and immediate support. There was a critical need for an emergency response to protect those most vulnerable: farmers and workers upstream in the supply chains.
The upstream segments in the agricultural value chains are mostly women, rural, aging and migrant workers who play a pivotal role in producing most of the food supply. Because they often cannot rely on the necessary financial safety nets, their livelihoods depend on established linkages with cooperatives involved in the production and post-harvesting/processing segments of the agricultural value chains.
“With all pieces of the agricultural value chain being stressed equally, no crisis has hit the sector as hard as this. Technical Assistance support will allow operations to continue and to, hopefully, also innovate for the future.”
– Marie-Anna Bénard, Technical Assistance Officer, responsAbility
In Latin America, where responsAbility supports many of these agricultural cooperatives, Peru has been hit particularly hard and is, after Brasil, the second most impacted country in the region today. Even markets that remained relatively steady during the 2008 financial crisis, such as the coffee market, have been hit in a way that none of the previous financial crises can compare in terms of depth and breadth, as all the pieces of the value chains are being stressed simultaneously. Immediate complications due to the Covid-19 pandemic impacting operations could significantly hamper the value chain, affecting the livelihoods of thousands of rural households. In this regard, with the imminent coffee season in Peru, Peruvian cooperatives were given first priority.
Therefore, on 22 May 2020, the SDC approved the team’s request to set up an emergency relief funding envelope of up to USD 100,000 to support responsAbility's portfolio companies coping strategies for the operational struggles caused by the Covid-19 crisis, and safeguard producers and workers' income and health while ensuring business continuation and early recovery of businesses.
Related interventions could benefit up to 10 Peruvian cooperatives representing 14'270 producers. Where relevant, support to portfolio companies in other regions and for other commodities, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, is also being envisaged.