Sunday, October 05, 2008

IDE-Cambodia's MicroFranchise Scheme: Winner at World Bank Expo

Congratulations to Michael Roberts and IDE for their Microfranchising work in Cambodia being selected as a winner at the World Bank's Development Marketplace. The IDE microfranchise scheme in Cambodia was one of 22 winning projects selected out of over 1,700 proposals. You can read full press releases and watch videos from the expo on the World Bank website. I'll include their entry below. My commentary:

1. Having the label of microfranchising showcased in such a high profile environment (the competition was sponsored by the likes of the World Bank, IFC, Gates Foundation, and should be considered a major development in terms of the development and spread of this as an idea or concept.

2. I had a chance to sit down with Michael while he was in town to discuss IDE's microfranchising work as well as explore connections with Ashoka, which could be many. There are so many natural points of overlap between IDE and Ashoka, particularly when it comes to identifying innovation in agriculture and rural development.

3. The last comment I wanted to make in regards to this event was their use of the model of a competition to source the most innovative solutions. I think it is great to see the likes of the World Bank engaging in this very organic, grassroot type approach. Competitions have been a major recent trend in philanthropy and innovation in general, think X Prize, the recently announced $10 idea competition by Google, Ashoka's Changemaker's compeitions as well as the numerous popularity/fundraising compeitions hosted by the likes of Parade magazine and American Express.

IDE-Cambodia's Entry (my markings):

Micro-Franchising Scheme for Agricultural Services
COUNTRY: Cambodia
ORGANIZATION: International Development Enterprises (Cambodia)
CONTACT: Michael Roberts
+855 23 223 541

OBJ ECTIVE: To increase small farmers’ productivity and increase the net annual income of 1,800 small farm households by $150 by developing a sustainable micro-franchise enterprise to provide affordable horticultural services through Private Extension Agents (PEAs).

RATIONALE: The majority of Cambodia’s poor live in rural areas and depend primarily on agriculture for their livelihood. Small farm productivity could benefit from the substitution of imported vegetables, which account for up to 60 percent of all vegetables consumed in Cambodia. Small holders in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng (Cambodia), the two targeted provinces located along the route for Vietnamese imports, cannot exploit this opportunity because they lack know-how in vegetable production and access to credit and market information. In response to these constraints, this project will develop profitable micro-franchises to provide agricultural inputs, technical advice, in-kind credit and marketing services through a network of Private Extension Agents (PEAs).

INNOVATION: This project will implement an innovative micro-franchising scheme for agricultural extension services through private-sector providers in provinces affected by imports. It will do so by bundling information and know-how with agricultural inputs and by supporting the private sector providers as franchisees and linking them in a micro-franchise network.

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